Supreme Court clears the way for gay marriage

Last week, the Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriage in 5 states, which could be the precedent needed for allowing gay marriage across the U.S.

By denying review for several cases on gay marriage, the Supreme Court’s Oct. 6 decision let stand appeals court rulings, which allowed for gay marriage in Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin. This brings the number of states allowing gay marriage to 24 in the United States, which is a huge win for gay rights activists.

The Supreme Court specifically let stand appeals courts striking down bans on same-sex marriage in Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Altogether, the federal appeals courts that have jurisdiction over these states also have jurisdiction over Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. All of these states currently bar gay marriage, but the recent federal appeals courts rulings will almost certainly set a precedent to strike down such bans.

As more states allow same-sex marriage, some foresee the Supreme Court making a nationwide ruling in support of gay marriage if they take a case on the issue in the near future.

“The more liberal justices have been reluctant to press this issue to an up-or-down vote until more of the country experiences gay marriage,” said former United States solicitor general Walter E. Dellinger III in a New York Times article published Oct. 6. “Once a substantial part of the country has experienced gay marriage, then the court will be more willing to finish the job.”

Dissenters of the cause argue against a federal court’s ability to rule on such a matter. “It’s mind-boggling that lower court judges would be allowed to impose the redefinition of marriage in these states,” wrote Brian S. Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said, “This is judicial activism at its worst.”

Proponents of same-sex marriage instead call for the Supreme Court to do more for the cause.

“The court’s delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places,” said president of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson in a New York Times article published Oct. 6.

The country is clearly still split on the issue, but the number of states allowing same-sex marriage is growing rapidly. After the probable addition of the 6 states under the same federal appeals court jurisdiction as Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin, the U.S. will legally allow gay marriage in 30 states—more than half of the nation.

Last week’s development was an enormous gain for same-sex marriage advocates, and could set into action a nationwide change in marriage laws.