Marriage Cases Update: What You Need to Know

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October 9, 2014

(For the latest developments, check our live blog.)

It’s only Thursday and already so much has happened since Monday, when the Supreme Court announced that it would not take up cases from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin that struck down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples — making it possible for same-sex couples to begin marrying in those five states.

The Court’s action also means that the other courts with pending cases in the 4th, 7th, and 10th Circuits should quickly issue orders allowing same-sex couples to marry there, as they are bound by the rulings of those federal courts of appeal. Due to the Supreme Court’s action, Colorado and parts of Kansas and South Carolina have now begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. North Carolina and Wyoming should follow very soon. In West Virginia, Lambda Legal is seeking immediate action in our marriage case there.

On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court struck down the marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. On Wednesday morning there was a lot of confusion after Justice Kennedy granted a temporary motion for a stay of the 9th Circuit’s decision. After we called the Court to inquire whether that stay also applied to our case in Nevada, we were relieved when later that day Justice Kennedy issued another order clarifying that the stay was only for Idaho—clearing the way again for couples to marry in Nevada. We hope Idaho will also soon be able to join the list of states where couples are marrying. We have an additional marriage case pending in Arizona at the federal district court— which is within the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction — and we expect the court there to rule quickly now that the 9th Circuit has issued its decision. Other states with marriage bans in that circuit are Alaska and Montana. Once all the states in the 4th, 7th, 9th, and 10th Circuits follow the lead of their courts of appeal, same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry in 35 states and the District of Columbia – 16 more than just last week!

Here’s how Lambda Legal plaintiffs Beverly Sevcik and Mary Baranovich of Carson City, NV, reacted when they heard the terrific news:

We are just so delighted that finally, after 43 years together, we will soon be able to get married and celebrate our love for and commitment to each other with family and friends in the state we have long called home. When we met, we never thought this day would come. But now it’s here, and how sweet it is!

Also on Tuesday, Lambda Legal joined the appeal of a Louisiana marriage case to the 5th Circuit. We’re part of a legal team representing seven same-sex couples and the LGBT advocacy group Forum for Equality Louisiana.

But wait there may be more! The week isn’t over yet and who knows when we might get a decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the six marriage cases that will affect Ohio (where we are co-counsel), Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Congratulations to all of our colleagues across the movement: ACLU, GLAD, NCLR, Freedom to Marry and so many private co-counsel. It’s been quite a week – the fruits of progress that has been decades in the making.

Freedom and equality are sweeping the nation! Lambda Legal will continue to represent couples across the country – including in Arizona, Georgia, IndianaLouisiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas, and West Virginia, where we have cases pending – as we fight for them and all other couples in the country to share the freedom to marry soon.

Stay tuned!