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U.S. Supreme Court Denies 5 States' Gay Marriage Appeals

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear five gay marriage appeals, effectively making gay marriage legal in five more states.

The High Court denied applications for appeal from Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Virginia, which means the lower court decisions which struck down gay marriage bans in those states are in effect. The Associated Press reports that six other states will likely have marriage equality soon, with their respective gay marriage decisions only on hold pending the Supreme Court's review.

What does the Supreme Court's refusal to hear gay marriage cases mean?

Five states had appealed their gay marriage cases to the Supreme Court, and now these five states effectively have gay marriage.

  • Utah and Oklahoma's cases had been decided by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with Utah being decided first, then Oklahoma. In both states, the 10th Circuit's decisions were stayed until the Supreme Court could have a chance to hear the cases. A few hundred couples had been married in Utah prior to the stay, and the federal government had recognized them as married for the better part of 2014.
  • The cases in Indiana and Wisconsin were similar, with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issuing its decision to strike down these states' gay marriage bans in September. Since the 7th Circuit's decision was only on hold until the Supreme Court had its bite at the gay marriage apple, gay Wisconsinites and Hoosiers should be able to get hitched almost immediately.
  • In Virginia, the state's new Attorney General Mark Herring opposed the state's gay marriage ban and filed a brief to oppose it in court. According to Think Progress, Herring tweeted that gay marriages will begin at 1 p.m. ET on Monday in Virginia.

Will the Supreme Court Take a Gay Marriage Case?

It's been more than a year since the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Windsor, which not only gave gay marriages federal recognition, but spawned gay marriage court challenges nationwide. The nation's highest court hasn't reapproached the issue of gay marriage since then, despite calls for it to clarify an increasingly tangled patchwork of marriage laws.

Although the High Court didn't hear these five states' appeals, there are still federal gay marriage cases pending in the 5th and 6th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal. Until then, at least 24 states (and Washington, D.C.) now have gay marriage as the law of the land.

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