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October 17 , 2014

Supreme Court rejects marriage cases

Decision opens marriage to potentially 11 more states

Washington, D.C.--The United States Supreme Court denied writs of certiorari on the seven same-sex marriage cases involving five states that had been appealed to the high court.

The October 6 announcement means that, as of now, the appellate decisions, all of which were in favor of same-sex marriage, now hold force of law.

The cases appealed to the Supreme Court were from the Indiana and Wisconsin in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Virginia in the 4th Circuit, and Oklahoma and Utah in the 10th Circuit. The denial of certiorari by the Supreme Court not only immediately allows marriage to begin in the states whose appeals were rejected, but likely in other states in those circuits.

For instance, while the 4th Circuit ruling applies to Virginia, it carries force of law in North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia, so any attempts to fight against marriage equality in courts in those states would likely end in swift defeat. In the 10th Circuit, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming will likely see full same-sex marriage soon.

The 7th Circuit, however, already has full same-sex marriage in Illinois, so the additional of Wisconsin and Indiana brings marriage equality across the entire circuit.

That brings the number of states with full same-sex marriage up to a potential total of 30 within months.

There are also cases pending in the 5th Circuit, covering Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, and the 11th Circuit, encompassing Alabama, Florida and Georgia, in addition to cases that have already been heard by the appellate courts for the 6th Circuit (Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee). The 9th Circuit (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in cases involving Idaho and Nevada on October 7, and Justice Anthony Kennedy issued a temporary stay in enforcement of the Idaho ruling the following day. On October 10, however, the court denied a request by Idaho to issue a permanent stay pending appeal. United States District Court Judge Timothy Burgess ruled against Alaska�s same-sex marriage ban on October 12. With the Ninth Circuit refusing to grant stays in Idaho or Nevada, it is unlikely they will step in to stop marriages in Alaska.

It is believed that one of the prime reasons for the Supreme Court refusing to hear any of the cases was the fact that all of the appellate courts thus far have agreed that denying marriage to same-sex couples is unconstitutional. Without dissent among the circuits, there is no real reason for the high court to step in, except to play politics. If one of the four circuits that have yet to hear, or to decide, marriage cases upholds a marriage ban, the high court would likely then take up the case, since it is certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

According to the Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles Law School, the court�s rejection of certiorari means that almost 65 percent of same-sex couples live in states where marriage is now, or will shortly be, legal, and the number of Americans living in states with same-sex marriage sits at 60 percent.

�We are ecstatic to hear that same-sex couples will soon be able to marry in 30 states, the District of Columbia, and ten Native American jurisdictions. And while we hoped that the U.S. Supreme Court would decide on the issue of marriage for all fifty states, we are resolute in our work to secure justice, fairness, and equality for all,� said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

�While we welcome the news that the majority of states will have the freedom to marry, Ohio citizens are currently denied this freedom,� said Michael Premo, campaign manager of Why Marriage Matters Ohio. �Every day Ohioans are denied the freedom to marry, thousands of families are harmed. Both parents cannot be recognized on their children�s birth certificates, and these families are forced to make difficult decisions about healthcare and end of life issues because the state refuses to recognize their relationship.�

�Every day that the Sixth Circuit delays its ruling, families are being denied the basic protections that every other couple enjoys,� he continued. �We hope the Sixth Circuit will act quickly to resolve this issue and give all families equal protection under the law.�

Ian James, co-founder and executive director of FreedomOhio, noted, �The Supreme Court�s actions today mean that all Americans in 30 states now have the right to marry. But for those of us living in states with marriage bans, the Court�s actions do nothing to protect our right to marry, and open the door for these discriminatory bans to be upheld.�








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