SCOTUS Makes Big Same-Sex Marriage Decision

The United State Supreme Court has just made a MAJOR decision regarding same-sex marriage in the United States: This morning, it declined to hear five states' appeals of pending gay marriage cases and decided to leave intact lower court rulings across the nation, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in 11 additional states:
The unexpected decision by the justices, announced without further explanation, immediately affects five states in which federal appeals courts had struck down bans against gay marriage: Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Utah.

It also will bring along six other states located in the judicial circuits overseen by those appellate courts: North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming.

The action will bring to 30 the number of states where gays and lesbians can marry. Appeals courts in Cincinnati and San Francisco are considering cases that could expand that number further, presuming the Supreme Court remains outside the legal fray.

Most court-watchers had predicted the justices would hear one or more cases this term and issue a verdict with nationwide implications by next June. But the justices, perhaps sensing that the country is headed toward legalizing gay marriage without their involvement, chose to deny states' appeals.
At SCOTUSblog noted on Twitter: "Practically, today SCOTUS recognized a right to SSM. Implausible that later it will undo marriages, absent a big change in Ct's membership."

So that's the good news. The very good news.

The bad news is that SCOTUS is taking a big punt on the issue, which prolongs leaving this garbage state-by-state patchwork of legal/illegal same-sex marriage in place.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin summed it up very well: "Any time same-sex couples are extended marriage equality is something to celebrate, and today is a joyous day for thousands of couples across America who will immediately feel the impact of today's Supreme Court action. But let me be clear: The complex and discriminatory patchwork of marriage laws that was prolonged today by the Supreme Court is unsustainable. The only acceptable solution is nationwide marriage equality and we recommit to ourselves to securing that ultimate victory as soon as possible."

In more good news, however: Just last Friday, Jackson County Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs ruled that Missouri "must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who have wed legally in other places." In other words, even if same-sex marriage remains illegal in Missouri, the state must recognize legal same-sex marriages from other states, just as the state recognizes legal different-sex marriages performed in other states.

That's exactly what DOMA used to exist to prevent states from having to do. Now that DOMA is gone, there's no law justifying the denial of equal protection for same-sex couples.

This is a crucial precedent, because now even states that want to ban same-sex marriage will likely be forced to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in another state, which basically subverts any rationale for keeping it illegal within any individual state.

The dominoes continue to fall.

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