|KU KLUX KOURT PUNTS ON SAME SEX MARRIAGE RULING|
This rejection lets three federal appeals decisions take effect, legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected calls for a nationwide ruling on same-sex marriage, a rebuff that lets gays marry in as many as 11 new states and leaves legal uncertainty elsewhere.
The denial today of seven pending appeals defied predictions. Advocates on both sides had urged the justices to resolve the issue following a wave of lower court rulings that the Constitution guarantees same-sex marriage rights.
The rejection lets three federal appeals decisions take effect, legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana. Six other states -- Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina -- will likely follow because they fall under the jurisdiction of those appellate courts.
Those additions will bring the number of gay-marriage states to 30, plus the District of Columbia.
As a practical matter, however, this decision, to not to hear these cases is an earthquake for gay rights. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which covers Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, refused to issue a stay halting its order favoring marriage equality. Although the Supreme Court later stepped in with its own stay order, that order provides that the Supreme Court’s stay will “terminate automatically” if the Supreme Court denies review of the case. Now that the justices have done so, there should be no further legal barriers preventing marriages from beginning in those five states — although it is possible that there may be some delay before marriages may begin due to procedural steps that need to be taken by the judiciary.
One thing that should be noted is that there are still marriage equality cases pending before conservative circuits that could rule against equality. Nevertheless, the fact that marriages are likely to begin very shortly in the states currently subject to court orders will make it very difficult for the Supreme Court to reverse course — and retroactively invalidate those marriages — in a subsequent opinion.
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