2014-NOV-01: Current status of same-sex marriage in the United States:
The 50 states and the District of Columbia can be sorted into four groups:
33 political jurisdictions -- 32 states and the District of Columbia: Marriage is routinely available to same-sex couples. Marriage equality has arrived there -- apparently to stay.
Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina: In these states, marriage equality has been declared by a final, fixed ruling in the 4th, 7th or 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. However the state is ignoring court precedence and is refusing to implement marriage equality. Often, this involves a governor and/or Attorney General violating their oath of office which requires them to follow the U.S. Constitution. Same-sex marriages became available in all three states during November. The last was South Carolina.
8 states where U.S. District courts or state courts have declared SSM bans unconstitutional. The decisions are currently stayed pending appeals.
7 states that do not allow same-sex marriage, all because of state constitutional amendments. In each state there are one or more active lawsuits attempting to overturn the ban. The courts have not yet issued rulings in these states.
2014-NOV-04: Kansas U.S. District Court rules same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional:
Federal District Court judge Daniel Crabtree issued a ruling on Tuesday, NOV-04. As everyone expected, he found that the same-sex marriage ban in the Kansas' constitution is unconstitutional. He issued a temporary stay on his ruling. Same-sex couples cannot marry immediately. The stay expires on NOV-11 at 5 PM local time.
The Secretary of Kansas' Department of Health and Environment has a week's time to appeal the District Court decision to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. However, that court has already ruled in favor of marriage equality in two lawsuits from Utah and Oklahoma during the summer of 2014. Those two cases were appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On OCT-06, the high court refused to accept the appeal. This made the two cases final and fixed. Thus if today's ruling in Kansas were appealed, the District Court's ruling would almost certainly be upheld. 1
2014-NOV-05: Missouri's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional.
Judge Rex Burlison ruled in St. Louis Circuit Court that the ban violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Those clauses require the federal, state and local governments to treat individuals -- and by extension -- couples equally. Thus, if a state allows opposite-sex couples to marry, then it must also allow same-sex couples to do the same. Same-sex couples started to obtain licenses and marry in the City of St. Louis. More details.
2014-NOV-06: 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals finds marriage ban in 4 contiguous states to be constitutional!
During the recent past, dozens of U.S. District courts and a few U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal had declared SSM bans in various states to be unconstitutional because they violate the due process and/or the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Some of these cases were appealed to a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who declared the bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee to be constitutional. Plaintiffs from Kentucky and Michigan are single and want to marry in their state. Plaintiffs from Ohio and Tennessee had been legally married out-of-state and want their state to recognize their marriages. The vote was by the narrowest of possible margins: 2:1. The two judges who were nominated by Republican presidents voted in favor of the ban; the one judge who was nominated by Democratic president voted against the ban.
This ruling is expected to be resolved by an appeal to the full U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and/or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
If the case is appealed to the high court -- now or in the future -- then this decision by the three-judge panel is great news for:
Those in favor of marriage equality because -- finally -- there is a conflict among U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal that can only be harmonized if the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the case by granting certiorari, hearing the case, and rendering a judgment.
Those opposed to marriage equality for the same reason.
The future options for America's approximately 15 million citizens who are gay or lesbian, or who will later find out that they are gay or lesbian, are hanging in the balance. So too for America's approximately 15 million bisexuals.
If and when the high court accepts the case, it would then seem to have four options:
It may grant certiorari -- accept the appeal, -- decide to forcibly divorce all married same-sex couples against their will, and to make same-sex marriages unavailable everywhere in the U.S.
It may grant certiorari and render a ruling that allows lower courts to differ on marriage equality. This would preserve the present patchwork of marriage options for same-sex couples across the country
It may not grant certiorari and accept the status-quo which allows lower courts to differ on marriage equality and preserve a patchwork of marriage options to exist for same-sex couples across the country
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision could conceivably be issued as early as late 2015-JUN. However, it could easily be delayed until 2016-JUN. Even then, its decision might not be permanent. If a Republican president is elected in the future, new conservative members might be elected to the Supreme Court that could reverse any decision in favor of marriage equality.
2014-NOV-07: Marriage equality came to Missouri -- sort of. Due to three decisions during October and November -- two by state judges and by a one federal judge:
Marriage licenses are available to same-sex couples in the County of St. Louis. the independent City of St. Louis and the city of Kansas City, MO.
The State of Missouri is required to recognize legal marriages solemnized by same-sex couples in other states.
As described in the media, Missourians throughout the state can travel to St. Louis County or the City of St. Louis, obtain a marriage license, and be married anywhere in the state. As long as there are no negative rulings by higher courts in the future, it appears that same-sex marriage has come to the state of Missouri. So we have listed Missouri as the 34th state to attain marriage equality. ... for now. More details.
2014-NOV-13: Kansas: This state is under the jurisdiction of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. When the Supreme Court refused to accept appeals from this Circuit Court, the ruling by the Circuit Court became final and fixed. The state initially resisted implementing same-sex marriages, but finally relented. More details. More details
2014-NOV-14: Couples from Ohio and Tennessee petition U.S. Supreme Court: Eight days after the decision of the 6th Circuit Court that upheld same-sex marriage bans in four states, a group of plaintiffs -- now called petitioners -- along with pro-equality groups that were representing them in court, petitioned the Supreme Court to decide whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage throughout in the U.S. Many observers feel that the high court will now accept a case for review, because there is now disagreement among the Circuit Courts about SSM. The U.S. Supreme Court in the past has tended to accept appeals in order to resolve this type of difference. 2
2014-NOV-19: Montana: District Court Judge Brian Morris issued a ruling legalizing marriage for same-sex couples. It was effective immediately and was not stayed. More details.
2014-NOV-20: South Carolina: When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the state of Virginia concerning same-sex marriage on OCT-06, marriage equality became the law of the land throughout the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This legalized marriage for same-sex couples in South Carolina. However, the state initially resisted by requesting stays from the 4th Circuit Court and later from the U.S. Supreme Court. Both courts refused, and so marriage equality came to South Carolina, the 36th state to have done so. More details. More details.
2014-NOV-21: Co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage vows to stop marriage equality even if it takes a century. Chairman Robert George said:
"We have to resolve that we will stand for [opposite-sex] marriage and fight for however long it takes. It might be 20 years, it might be 50 years, it might be 100 years - to rebuild the marriage culture and to restore in law, where it has been displaced, a sound understanding of marriage. As a result of this, we will draw ridicule. We will bring scorn upon ourselves, because powerful people in institutions reject our understanding of marriage. They reject what everyone understood marriage to be until yesterday. And they claim that anyone who disagrees with them is a bigot, or a hater, or is motivated by irrational animus, or archaic religious beliefs. Yet we must suffer that, be willing to suffer that opprobrium, perhaps discrimination, perhaps the loss of friends, perhaps even conflict within the family, for the sake of rebuilding marriage, because so much for people depends on it, and especially for the poor." 3
2014-NOV-22: Comparison of marriage access by interracial and same-sex couples: In 1967, there were 16 southern states that did not allow interracial couples to marry. The states formed a contiguous block from the Virginias to Texas, to Florida. In some states an interracial couple living together was considered a criminal act. The U.S. Supreme Court legalized such marriages across all 50 states in 1967 when they issued their ruling in Loving v. Virginia.
As of NOV-22, same-sex couples can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. It is likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will accept an appeal from one or more Circuit Courts of Appeal, hold hearings on one or more same-sex marriage related lawsuits in the spring of 2015, and issue its ruling in late 2015-JUN. It could legalize same-sex marriages across the entire U.S. It could restore state bans on same-sex marriage. It could take other actions.