U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS won't hear same-sex marriage cases, clearing the way for gay marriage in 11 more states

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The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand rulings that struck down gay-marriage bans in five states.

The Supreme Court on Monday denied cert in seven petitions seeking review of those rulings. SCOTUSblog had an early report, followed by stories by the National Law Journal, the New York Times, USA Today and the Washington Post.

The “surprise move” means same-sex couples in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana will soon be able to legally marry, according to a press release by the Human Rights Campaign. In addition, the cert denial leaves in place federal appeals court rulings from the 4th, 7th and 10th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, meaning couples in West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming will soon be able to marry as well, the press release says.

“The move was a major surprise,” the New York Times says, “and suggests that the justices are not going to intercede in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban.” Gay-marriage cases are currently pending before the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

As a result of the cert denial, gay marriage will be allowed in 30 states, according to Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, who was quoted by USA Today. Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have laws allowing same-sex marriage, and the cert denial will eventually allow gay marriage in 11 more states.

Both Wolfson and Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, applauded a move that will allow more gay couples to marry, but said the patchwork of state laws are still an impediment to nationwide marriage equality.

Related prior articles:

ABAJournal.com: “SCOTUS releases new list of grants for 2014 term, with no same-sex marriage cases”

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