Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
Accelerating changes involving
same-sex marriage, LGBT equality, etc.
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.
Events during late November are described in in the previous essay.
Developments during 2014-DEC:
2014-DEC-01: USA: Current status of same-sex marriage:
The 50 states and the District of Columbia can be sorted into four groups:
- 36 political jurisdictions -- 35 states and the District of Columbia: Marriage is routinely available to same-sex couples. Marriage equality has arrived there -- apparently to stay. Also, marriage licenses are available to same-sex couples in some areas of Missouri.
- 2 states, Texas and Arizona, where U.S. District courts or state courts have declared SSM bans unconstitutional. The decisions are currently stayed pending appeals.
- 12 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.
See a detailed listing of the dates when marriage equality was attained in various states.
The 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal have all issued rulings that have overturned same-sex marriage bans in one or more states under their jurisdiction. However, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal has ruled that a state ban on marriage by same-sex couples is legal. This conflict among the Circuit Courts makes it likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will intervene, accept one or more appeals, and decide a common policy for the entire country -- perhaps by late 2015-JUN!
SCOTUSblog reported on DEC-17 that:
"As of now, the Court has five pending cases on the same-sex marriage issue. Four are petitions challenging a ruling by the U.S. [Circuit] Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, upholding marriage bans in four states. The fifth case is from Louisiana, seeking review of a federal [District Court] judge’s ruling upholding a ban in that state." 1
- 2014-DEC-17: Idaho: A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had earlier declared Idaho's ban on marriage by same-sex couples to be unconstitutional. Governor "Butch" Otter has appealed the case to the full Circuit Court. Governor Otto filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court saying that if the Circuit Court does not grant a full court review quickly, then the state will appeal the case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court on 2015-JAN-09. 1
- 2014-DEC-18: Ireland: The latest in a series of Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI polls shows very high support for marriage equality. 71% of potential voters plan to vote "Yes" on the upcoming referendum scheduled for 2015-MAY. 17% plan to vote "No." This is the highest support and lowest opposition that we have seen in any poll in any country. If the referendum in Ireland legalizes marriage by same-sex couples, then only two large English-speaking countries will still have a ban in place for such marriages: Australia and Northern Ireland. More details.
- 2014-DEC-20: Florida: A state of chaos exists in this state. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle had declared a 2008 amendment to the state constitution which banned same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional and void. He determined this on the usual grounds that it violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He stayed his ruling until midnight at the end of 2015-JAN-05 to allow time for the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether to extend the stay. Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) asked the 11th Circuit Court and the U.S. Supreme Court to extend the stay but was refused by both courts. Various theories were promoted that District Court Judge Robert Hinkle's ruling instructed:
- County clerks in all 67 counties in Florida to issue marriage licenses to all qualified same-sex couples in Florida, or
- The county clerk in only Washington county to issue marriage licenses to all qualified same-sex couples who apply, or
- The county clerk in only Washington county to issue a marriage license to only one same-sex couple -- the plaintiffs in the case
Judge Hinkle asked the defendants in the case to submit briefs on or before DEC-29 giving their arguments about the scope of his ruling. He is expected to issue his decision on or before 2015-JAN-05. More details are described in three essays, starting here.
- 2014-DEC-30: Florida: Ratcheting up the chaos in this state, a conservative group, Florida Family Action, Inc (FFAI) filed an emergency lawsuit in a state court: naming Osceola County Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and Circuit Judge Robert LeBlanc as defendants. Clerk Ramirez has indicated that he plans to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in early January after the District Court's stay expires. Both Mayor Dyer and Judge LeBlanc have indicated that they plan to officiate at marriages of same-sex couples on 2015-JAN-06. FFA seeks to prohibit these actions. They apparently take the stand that one marriage by a same-sex couple in Florida is one too many to allow. More details.
Year-end summary for 2014 about marriage equality in the U.S.: Marriage redefinitions, current status, and predictions for 2015:
- Redefining marriage in the past:
Couples' eligibility 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 permitted to freely marry for the first time.
- 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 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 35. Adding in the District of Columbia, this makes 36 political jurisdictions who have attained marriage equality. This means that the number of states that still ban same-sex marriage is approximately equal to the number of states that banned interracial marriage in 1967 when the high court banished state miscegenation laws. Some observers have speculated that 2015 may be the year for the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether same-sex marriages should be legal across the entire country.
- Current status:
- Four U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal have ruled in favor of marriage equality. These are the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th.
- One Circuit Court has ruled against marriage equality: the 6th Circuit Court by a narrow 2:1 vote of a panel of three judges. This involved rulings upholding same-sex marriage bans in four states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. All four cases have been appealed to the high court by the plaintiff same-sex couples. In addition:
- The states of Ohio and Kentucky joined with the plaintiffs in their cases and supported the latter's appeal to the Supreme Court; both sides agreed that they wanted to see the high court issue a final ruling that would bring closure to the debate across the entire country.
- The state of Michigan waived its right to file a response to the plaintiffs' appeal of their lawsuit.
- The state of Tennessee asked the Supreme Court to reject the appeal by the plaintiffs in their case, and let stand the 6th Circuit Court ruling in favor of the same-sex marriage ban
- 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 -- one state at a time.
- What may happen in 2015?
- 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. The high court later holds hearings in one or more cases, and issues a ruling to resolve the conflict.
- Some commentators have speculated that when the number of states that still prohibit same-sex marriages 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 remaining in place. 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 laws banning interracial marriages were unconstitutional.
By the end of 2014, 15 states still have same-sex marriage bans in place. Also Missouri has legalized SSM in some locations, and Florida will probably start providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on 2015-JAN-06.
- On JAN-09, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hold their first 2015 Conference. That is the name given to a private meeting of the nine Justices. They will consider 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.
This topic continues in the next essay with information
about events during the first third of 2015-JAN.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Lyle Denniston, "Idaho to take same-sex marriage case to Court," SCOTUSblog, 2014-DEC-17, at: http://www.scotusblog.com/
How you may have arrived here:
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2014-DEC-01
Latest update: 2015-JAN-17
Author: B.A. Robinson