THE WASHINGTON POST
By Robert Barnes June 26, 2015
A deeply divided Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live.
The court’s action rewarded years of legal work by same-sex marriage advocates and marked the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence.
Marriages began Friday in states that had previously thwarted the efforts of same-sex couples to wed, while some states continued to resist what they said was a judicial order that changed the traditional definition of marriage and sent the country into uncharted territory. As of the court’s decision Friday morning, there were 14 states where same-sex couples were not allowed to marry.
Let Us Pray and Seek The Lord As Never Before.
Workbook: Is the debate over same-sex marri-
-age all but over?
Same-sex marriage supporters rejoice outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday after the U.S Supreme Court handed down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage. The high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. Alex Wong/Getty Image
[The Two-Way] Breaking News From NPR
In Some States, Defiance Over Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Ruling June 29, 2015 3:38 PM ET
The Supreme Court ruled last week that states cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize their unions. The historic decision was welcomed by many, but there was much criticism, too, especially in some conservative states.
In its majority opinion, the court said First Amendment protections were in place for those who object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds, and that they "may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned."
The court gave the losing side about three weeks to seek reconsideration.
State Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement Sunday saying state workers can refuse to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
Judges and state workers "may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections," he said.
And, he added, while clerks who choose not to issue licenses "may well face litigation and/or a fine ... numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis."
Still, same-sex couples did receive marriage licenses Friday in the state's biggest cities.
The state's Clerks Association said it was advising clerks of court to wait for the end of the three-week period for the Supreme Court to consider a rehearing of the case. But The Associated Press reports that Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Jon Geggenheimer said his office was issuing licenses as of Monday morning.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency, has spoken out against same-sex marriage and the court's decision, but said his state would comply with the ruling.
The AP reports that in Kansas, some counties are still refusing to comply with the ruling that gay and lesbian couples can marry.
"[T]he attorney general and Gov. Sam Brownback said they would study the Supreme Court ruling further before making any moves in a lawsuit over the state's voter-passed ban," the wire service reports.
In Alabama, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore said Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling is stalled during the reconsideration period.
AL.com reports that:
"Moore said the state Supreme Court today issued an order that effectively keeps probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couplesfor 25 days.
" 'In that 25-day period that (U.S. Supreme Court) order is not in effect,' Moore said. 'The (Alabama Supreme Court order speaks for itself.' "
On Sunday, Moore said that last week's decision went against the laws of nature. "Welcome to the new world. It's just changed for you Christians," he said. "You are going to be persecuted."
In February, he had ordered the state's probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples when a federal appeals court ruled that gay marriage was legal in the state.
Prior to Friday's ruling, the states that had laws banning same-sex marriage were Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
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"Gay marriage now legal for all 50 states! "
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Supreme Court lets stand state rulings allowing same-sex marriage. "The Supreme Court on Monday decided to let stand rulings that allow same-sex marriage in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin, a move that may dramatically expand across the nation a decades-long movement legalizing such unions. The court’s action marks a turning point. A majority of Americans now live in states where gay couples can wed, and the court’s decision could soon bring the number of those states to 30, meaning there may be no going back....The court’s decision came without explanation and startled those on both sides of the issue who had urged the justices to accept the cases to rule on the constitutionality of marriage in a way that affected all 50 states." Robert Barnes in The Washington Post.
Many more same-sex marriages soon, but where? "First, as a direct result of Monday’s action, same-sex marriages can occur when existing lower-court rulings against state bans go into effect in Virginia in the Fourth Circuit, Indiana and Wisconsin in the Seventh Circuit, and Oklahoma and Utah in the Tenth Circuit. Second, such marriages can occur when the court of appeals rulings are implemented in federal district courts in three more states in the Fourth Circuit...and in three more states in the Tenth Circuit....Third, four other circuits...are currently considering the constitutionality of same-sex marriages. Of those, the Ninth Circuit...is considered most likely to strike down state bans. If that happens, it would add five more states to the marriages-allowed column....which would bring the national total to thirty-five." Lyle Denniston in SCOTUSblog.
What happens in the 20 states where same-sex marriages are still illegal? "Technically, the Supreme Court's decision doesn't dictate how those lower court cases should come out. But it also sends a signal that's hard for lower court judges to ignore....No federal appeals court has yet upheld a state law prohibiting same-sex unions. But judges on a Sixth Circuit panel hearing a challenge to four state laws earlier this year expressed skepticism that the Constitution requires states to recognize those marriages. And two of the lawsuits are now in front of the conservative judges of the Fifth Circuit. If either one of those courts upholds a state ban, the justices might be faced with a marriage case that would be harder to sidestep." Brad Heath in USA Today.
How the DOMA decision might actually be a de facto 50-state decision. "The thought at the time was that Windsor’s victory did not bring equality to any new state. (Although, arguably, no state truly had marriage equality before Windsor, given the constraints of DOMA.) But, as lower courts have read the Windsor decision, they have noticed that its language and legal reasoning, which invokes due process and equal protection, silently condemns state bans on same-sex marriage as well. And, one after the other, they’ve overturned those bans. If they keep doing so, the Supreme Court won’t have to rule again. (I’ve written about this possibility before.)" Amy Davidson in The New Yorker.
What the decision tells us about the legal battle over same-sex marriage. "The Supreme Court’s surprising move...may reflect two things about the justices: a natural inclination for incremental steps and a worry on the part of conservatives that the battle — for now — appears lost. Many observers of the court were stunned....Gay rights proponents took it as a sign that the court likes to move slowly when endorsing momentous societal change, that it feels no need to decide an issue before it must — and that the court’s move provides a clear signal for future challenges of voter-approved prohibitions on same-sex marriage." Robert Barnes in The Washington Post.
Why did the justices stay on the sidelines? "The justices may also be hoping to dodge the kind of questions about the court’s legitimacy that followed the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision....Even liberal justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan have suggested that it would have been better not to force a one-size-fits-all solution on states....It’s possible conservatives decided to duck the pending cases because they were confident they would come up short....The conservative justices may be thinking they could prevail if the court’s composition changes under a future president. Or one of the justices — perhaps a chief justice with an eye on his legacy — may have simply not wanted another battle royale over same-sex marriage with the conservatives on the losing end." Josh Gerstein in Politico.
Background reading: Supreme Court's robust new session could define legacy of chief justice. Adam Liptak in The New York Times.
A sign the political debate is also coming to a close: GOP is mostly silent on decision. "The GOP is looking to avoid an issue the party once used to galvanize its base, with candidates purple states appearing as reticent as the high court itself to get involved in the debate, and Republicans in red states where gay marriage used to be a top GOP wedge issue remaining silent. And while candidates in both parties weighed in on the directly affected states of Virginia and North Carolina, it was Democrats who looked to use it as a wedge issue in some purple states, with Republicans seemingly reluctant to engage." Cameron Joseph in The Hill.
But conservative activists are digging in further. "Gay-marriage opponents once held sway with constitutional provisions or laws in 31 U.S. states that banned same-sex unions. After the Supreme Court reduced that number by a third yesterday, they say their resolve is only deepened....Even as proponents of gay marriage declared its inevitability, opponents in the dwindling number of holdout states promised to raise the issue in state and federal elections in November, saying voters, not judges, should have the final word. The court’s refusal to hear the cases may compel candidates to take a stand on an issue many believed would be made moot by the high court." Mark Niquette, Esmé E. Deprez and Jennifer Oldham in Bloomberg.
What overturning interracial marriage bans might tell us about what happens next. "A century ago, marriage between blacks and whites was still illegal in more than half of the states. With the Supreme Court's 1967 decision Loving v. Virginia, the 17 states that still had laws banning the practice found their laws invalidated....Without Loving, it's not clear if those states might have acted sooner. After all, there was only symbolic pressure on them to take action. But it is clear that they likely wouldn't have acted in 1967. Without a similar Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, it's not clear when or how the states on the map below might change, either." Philip Bump in The Washington Post.Supreme Court lets stand state rulings allowing same-sex marriage. "The Supreme Court on Monday decided to let stand rulings that allow same-sex marriage in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin, a move that may dramatically expand across the nation a decades-long movement legalizing such unions. The court’s action marks a turning point. A majority of Americans now live in states where gay couples can wed, and the court’s decision could soon bring the number of those states to 30, meaning there may be no going back....The court’s decision came without explanation and startled those on both sides of the issue who had urged the justices to accept the cases to rule on the constitutionality of marriage in a way that affected all 50 states." Robert Barnes in The Washington Post
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