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Religious Tolerance logo

Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.

First third of 2015-JAN: Accelerating changes
involving same-sex marriage, LGBT equality, etc.
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We use the acronym "SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage."
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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Events during 2014-DEC are described in in the previous essay.

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wedding rings2014 year-end summary about marriage equality in the U.S. (Repeated from the list of 2014-DEC activities)

  • Redefining marriage in the past:

Couples' right to marry has been expanded four times in the history of the U.S.:

    • Once in the 1860's at the conclusion of the Civil War when former slaves were, for the first time, permitted to freely marry.

    • In the early 20th Century when a few states that had banned profoundly deaf couples from marrying all repealed their bans.

    • In 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Loving v. Virginia case. It declared bans on interracial marriages in 15 states, from Virginia to Florida to Texas to be unconstitutional and void. Interracial couples have been able to marry anywhere in the U.S. ever since.

    • Between 2004 and the end of 2014 the number of states that allow qualified same-sex couples to marry increased from 1 to 36. Adding in the District of Columbia, this makes 37 political jurisdictions who have attained marriage equality.

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  • Recent activities:

    • Four U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal have ruled in favor of marriage equality: the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th.

    • One Circuit Court has ruled against marriage equality. The decision was made by a 2:1 vote of a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court. This involved rulings upholding same-sex marriage bans in four states as constitutional: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. All four cases have been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court court by the plaintiff couples.

    • One District Court in Louisiana has also ruled against marriage equality.

    • Since 2004, dozens state courts, federal courts, legislatures, and citizen initiatives have granted access to marriage by same-sex couples. Since mid-2013, change has mainly been accomplished through the courts.

    • By the end of 2014, 14 states still have same-sex marriage bans in place. Also Missouri has legalized SSM in some locations. Florida will start to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples statewide on 2015-JAN-06.

  • Speculation as mid-2015 approached on whether the U.S. Supreme Court would harmonize same-sex marriage across the all of the U.S.:

    Past experience has shown that when a "circuit split" exists -- that is, when two Circuit Courts issue conflicting rulings -- the U.S. Supreme Court will often grant certiorari -- accept appeal(s) of the cases and eventually issue a ruling to resolve the conflict throughout the U.S.

    Another factor that may motivate the high court to accept one or more appeals is the number of states that still prohibit same-sex marriages. Some commentators believe that when this shrinks to approximately 15 the U.S. Supreme Court may accept one or more appeals and bring equality to the entire country, For example, in 1967, 16 states still had anti-miscegenation laws that banned interracial marriages. All were in the southeast quadrant of the United States, from Virginia to Texas to Florida. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that interracial couples could marry everywhere in the U.S.

    Uniformity does not necessarily mean that same-sex marriage will become available across the entire county. The court could rule that same-sex couples have no constitutional right to marriage. The court could rule the states' marriage bans are constitutional.

  • On JAN-09, the U.S. Supreme Court held their first 2015 Conference. That is the name given to a private meeting of the nine Justices. Among the appeals that they might consider are five marriage equality cases. One is a lawsuit from from a federal District Court in Louisiana. The other four are lawsuits from the 6th Circuit Court that originated in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

    If five or more justices vote in favor of hearing one or more of these appeals, hearings would probably be held in the Spring and a ruling handed down in late June. As of JAN-11, no information has been released about the SSM cases.

    According to SCOTUSblog:

    "If the Court does not grant review of any same-sex marriage case by about mid-January [2015], the chances are that it would not rule on the constitutional dispute during the current term, which is likely to run until late June or early July [of 2015]." 1

    Not acting quickly would probably delay the Supreme Court's final decision on marriage equality across the nation by a full twelve months until 2016-JUN! With about 5% of the American population having a homosexual orientation and about 5% with a bisexual orientation, there are of the order of 30 million Americans who might have a personal interest in same-sex marriage now or in the future. About 30% of them live in states where only opposite-sex couples are permitted to marry. As a result, the couples and their children live without elementary protections and are exposed to events that can cause disastrous consequences. Some would hope that the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are be aware of these problems and give priority to resolving the same-sex marriage conflict by mid-2015. Unfortunately, the first Conference came and went without any news related to SSM. A second conference was scheduled for JAN-16.

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  • JAN-05/06: Marriage equality comes to Florida. Although there is still a Florida lawsuit being appealed to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, same-sex engaged couples were able to marry in Miami-Dade County on JAN-05 and generally throughout Florida starting on the morning of JAN-06. Florida became the 36th state to attain marriage equality. In addition, such couples can marry in the District of Columbia, and in parts of Missouri.

    Some county clerks terminated their long-standing fee-based service of marrying couples with marriage licenses. In order to avoid being viewed as discriminating against same-sex couples, they decided to discriminate against all couples.

    Many county clerks probably would have liked to refuse to supply marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, if any did refuse, the District Court indicated that they would be violating the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They would almost certainly be personally sued by one or more couples.

  • JAN-05/07: Two noted Republicans are saddened by the arrival of marriage equality in Florida. Both are considered potential Republican candidates for the presidency in 2016:

    • Ex-Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) told the Miami Herald newspaper that same-sex marriage:

      "... ought to be a local decision. I mean a state decision. The state decided. The people of the state decided, but it's been overturned by the courts, I guess." More details

    • Senator Marco Rubio (R) referred to marriage equality supporters when he said:

      "If they wanted to change that law, they should have gone to the legislature or back to the [state] Constitution and try to change it. I don’t agree we should be trying to make those changes through the courts. ... While I believe that marriage should be [restricted to] between one man and one woman, while people want to change that law — and a lot of people apparently do — there is a way to do that. You go through the legislature, or you go on on the ballot, but I don’t agree the courts have the power to do this." More details

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Truly momentous developments happened later in 2015-JAN.

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Lyle Denniston, "Idaho to take same-sex marriage case to Court," SCOTUSblog, 2014-DEC-17, at:
  2. Manu Raju, "Sen. Marco Rubio laments court rulings on same-sex marriage," Politico, 2015-JAN-07, at:
  3. Leo Hohmann, "GOP governors too timid to stop 'gay' marriage?," WND, at:
  4. Chris Geidner, "The Supreme Court Is Likely To Set Up The Same-Sex Marriage Showdown On Friday," 2015-JAN-15, at:

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Copyright © 2015 to 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-JAN-01
Latest update: 2019-MAY-15
Author: B.A. Robinson
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