WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court denied petitions on Monday in all seven of the cases challenging bans on same-sex couples' marriage rights, bringing marriage equality to five states and holding off high court review for now.
The decision not to take on the appeal in any of the pending certiorari petitions brings marriage equality to Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Utah — meaning 24 states in the country have legal marriage equality.
It also makes the appeals court decisions striking down the marriage bans in those states the law of the land in the 4th Circuit, 7th Circuit, and 10th Circuit courts of appeals — a result that makes marriage equality likely to come in short order in all states within those circuits. This is so because the controlling precedent in those circuits now is that bans on same-sex couples' marriages are unconstitutional.
Among the other states in the 4th Circuit without marriage equality currently that would be impacted are North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia. Among the other states in the 10th Circuit without marriage equality currently that would be impacted are Colorado, Kansas, and Wyoming. That, once resolved, would bring the total number of states with marriage equality to 30.
Arguments have been heard on marriage cases in the 6th Circuit and 9th Circuit courts of appeals, and decisions on the issue remain outstanding. The arguments in the 6th Circuit were the most split thus far in the five circuits to have heard arguments, and the case appeared to come down to the vote of Judge Jeff Sutton.
Cases are pending in the 5th Circuit and 11th Circuit courts of appeals as well.
Per an earlier order of the Supreme Court in the Virginia case out of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, "Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically." Per earlier orders of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the stays stopping same-sex couples from being able to marry in Indiana and Wisconsin are to "terminate automatically if the certiorari petition is denied." In the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, the court already issued orders lifting the stay of the mandate in the Oklahoma and Utah cases.
In addition to the five states directly involved in Monday's cert denials, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers already issued a statement that marriage equality will come to that state as well in short order "once the formalities are resolved."
Same-sex couples are marrying in Virginia.
Utah is recognizing same-sex couples' marriages, Gov. Gary Herbert says.
Federal judge in pending North Carolina marriage and adoption rights case asks for update within the next 10 days, following Monday's Supreme Court cert denials.
The plaintiff same-sex couples and state and county officials in the federal Colorado marriage case filed a joint status report on Monday afternoon, asking for "the temporary stay previously implemented by this Court to the ruling of the Court below striking down Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage ban [to] be lifted" and for "the Order of the Court below [to] be immediately effectuated and same sex couples [to] be allowed to immediately marry in the State of Colorado."
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes begins implementing marriage equality in the state.
Lest there be any doubt as to whether Reyes is implementing full marriage equality, as opposed to only marriage recognition, Utah Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Missy Larsen told BuzzFeed News, "They are advised that they can marry same-sex couples, as well."
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has now taken further action to bring marriage equality to that state, asking the 10th Circuit to dismiss his appeal of a federal trial court ruling that struck down that state's marriage ban.
Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.