This week, one year after the historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Windsor and Perry, the courtroom battle for marriage equality is once again moving up the judicial ladder. And the results surprised all of us. 

Not only did a federal judge strike down Indiana’s ban on gay marriage without putting a stay on the ruling—leading hundreds of Hoosier couples to line up to tie the knot—but we also got a huge pro-marriage ruling from this nation’s appellate courts.

marriage momentum courts

As a reminder, here’s how we got to this point. After a district judge in Utah struck down the state’s marriage ban late last year, defenders of the ban appealed the decision, moving the case one level up this nation’s tiered federal court system.

U.S. appellate courts have jurisdiction over entire groups of states. The Tenth Circuit, which issued a truly sweeping ruling in a case out of Utah this week, covers Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma.

In other words, entire new regions of the country are beginning to feel the reach of pro-marriage decisions. Because of this new ruling, if the Utah case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court but the justices decline to take it, then marriage equality would be the law of the land across this entire circuit. 

But if the justices do elect to hear this or any other case, then we’ve got another landmark Supreme Court case on our hands.

Of course, that’s a big IF. But one year after that unforgettable day at the Supreme Court, it's obvious that these federal court marriage battles aren’t going away until those nine justices weigh in once more.

Fortunately, we have many great movement heroes who are leading the charge for equal marriage--not just in these cases but in the more than 70 others across the country. Organizations like the ACLU, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, GLAD, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, state civil rights and litigation organizations, and countless private law firms and attorneys are working in parallel and sometimes even working together on the same case in the quest to bring marriage equality to all 50 states.

What’s clear is that, one year after Windsor and Perry, this movement has changed the country. But what’s also clear is that we’re not finished changing it yet. Not just because the marriage battle isn’t over, but because it’s still legal to fire an LGBT person in more than half the states in this country, because Project One America has essential work to do to change hearts and minds in the Deep South, because anti-LGBT hate continues to spread around the world, and because of countless more battles ahead.

Thank you for standing with us in the fights to come, and stay tuned to HRC for up-to-the-minute updates as we enter this critical new phase.

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