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US Supreme Court Refuses To Ban Gay Marriage


The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to decide once and for all whether states can ban gay marriage, a surprising move that will allow gay men and women to get married in five additional states, with more likely to follow quickly.

Gay-MarriageOn the first day of its new term, the high court without comment rejected appeals in cases involving five states – Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana – that had prohibited gay marriage, leaving intact lower-court rulings striking down those bans.

As a result, the number of states permitting gay marriage would jump from 19 to 24, likely soon to be followed by six more states that are bound by the regional federal appeals court rulings that had struck down bans. That would leave another 20 states that prohibit same-sex marriage.

But the move by the nine justices to sidestep the contentious issue means there will be no imminent national ruling on the matter, with litigation likely to continue in states with bans.

“Any time same-sex couples are extended marriage equality is something to celebrate, and today is a joyous day for thousands of couples across America who will immediately feel the impact of today’s Supreme Court action,” said Chad Griffin, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign.

Evan Wolfson, who heads the group Freedom to Marry, said while Monday’s action provided “a bright green light” to gay marriage in more states, gay rights advocates still want the high court to intervene and provide a definitive ruling covering all 50 states. “The Supreme Court should bring the country to a nationwide resolution,” Wolfson said.

The justices could take up a future case, but their move on Monday could send a strong signal to lower court judges that rulings striking down marriage bans are consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

Gay couples in affected states are expected to seek marriage licenses immediately because the high court’s action means the appeals court’s rulings are no longer on hold.

Virginia’s Democratic attorney general, Mark Herring, who backs gay marriage, said marriage licenses are expected to be issued starting Monday afternoon. Indiana’s Republican attorney general, Greg Zoeller, said his office would coordinate with local officials to “minimize chaos and confusion at local courthouses.”

The other states that are likely to be imminently affected are North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado.


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