This week we saw historic movement forward on the issue of marriage equality in America. Over the last seven days, a state circuit judge in Arkansas struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriages, prompting hundreds of couples across the Natural State to wed; a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard argument in a case challenging Virginia’s marriage ban; and a federal judge in Idaho ruled against the marriage equality ban in that state. The quick pace does not look like it will diminish: a ruling on Oregon's marriage ban is expectednext Monday.
“All across the country, discrimination and injustice are losing as judge after judge strikes down bans on marriage equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “This week was proof that we as a nation are moving unquestionably in the direction of equality. And whether you live in the Deep South or the west, the Constitution’s guarantee of equality and justice under the law continues to prevail, ensuring that marriage equality will soon be the law of the land nationwide.”
Last Friday Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled in Wright v. Arkansas, striking down Arkansas’ ban on same-sex marriages allowing hundreds of couples across the state to get married. Today, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay temporarily halting the issuance of marriage licenses.
On Tuesday, less than a year after being filed in federal district court and just months after a ruling by that court, a challenge to Virginia's ban on marriage equality was heard by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Bostic v. Schaefer (formerly Bostic v. Rainey) challenges Virginia’s constitutional amendment forbidding the state from performing or recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples. Bostic is one of nine marriage cases pending before federal appeals courts so far.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled that Idaho’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. Marriages were set to begin Friday at 9:00am local time, until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary request for a stay by Idaho Governor Butch Otter.
There are over 70 marriage equality cases working their way through the judicial system across the country. These cases have been filed in 30 states plus Puerto Rico and include hundreds of plaintiffs taking on state marriage bans. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane is scheduled to release his decision on two consolidated marriage cases challenging Oregon’s ban on marriage equality. Same-sex couples can legally marry in seventeen states and the District of Columbia, while 33 states have a law or constitutional amendment restricting marriage to the union of one man and one woman. Same-sex couples began marrying in Utah, Michigan and Arkansas after courts struck down marriage bans in those states. Marriages have since been put on hold while the cases are on appeal.