Since Supreme Court Rulings, Not a Single State Marriage Ban Has Survived a Federal Court Challenge

by Charles Joughin

Today Pennsylvania became the tenth state where a federal judge has struck down a marriage ban since historic U.S. Supreme Court decisions last year

WASHINGTON - As national polling continues to show Americans moving inexorably in the direction of supporting equality for same-sex couples, there are at least 70 court cases challenging discriminatory marriage bans across the country.  44 of these cases are currently pending in federal courts while 27 are pending in state courts, all in 29 states plus Puerto Rico. 

Same-sex couples can legally marry in eighteen states and the District of Columbia, while 32 states have a law or constitutional amendment restricting marriage to the union of one man and one woman.  Only three states – Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota – have bans on marriage equality but no current court cases challenging their constitutionality.  

Since the U.S. Supreme court ruled in two historic marriage cases last summer, not a single state marriage ban has survived a court challenge.

So far five federal appeals courts are presiding over ten marriage equality cases over the coming weeks and months.  These cases include: 

  • Kitchen v. Herbert of Utah [Oral argument at the Tenth Circuit was held April 10, 2014]
  • Bishop v. United States out of Oklahoma [Oral argument at the Tenth Circuit was held April 17, 2014]
  • Bostic v. Rainey of Virginia, [Oral argument at the Fourth Circuit was held May 13, 2014]
  • Sevcik v. Sandoval of Nevada, Ninth Circuit
  • Latta v. Otter of Idaho, Ninth Circuit
  • Tanco v. Haslam of Tennessee, Sixth Circuit
  • Bourke vs. Beshear of Kentucky, Sixth Circuit
  • Obergefell v. Kasich of Ohio, Sixth Circuit
  • DeBoer v. Snyder of Michigan, Sixth Circuit
  • DeLeon v. Perry out of Texas, Fifth Circuit

The Sixth Circuit holds the distinction of being the only federal appeals court to date that will consider marriage cases from all states within its jurisdiction.

Of the ten federal district judges who have struck down marriage bans in the last year, seven were appointed by Democrats and three were appointed by Republicans, including Judge John Jones who issued today’s ruling in Pennsylvania. In fact, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum referred to Judge Jones as “highly qualified to assume the important role of Judge and the duty of protecting the Constitution and ensuring the effective operation of our judicial system,” when announcing his support for the judge’s confirmation by the Senate. 

Today 40 percent of Americans live in states with marriage equality.  If PA Gov. Corbett does not appeal today’s decision and the ruling stands, that number will jump to 44 percent of Americans living in a jurisdiction where same-sex couples can legally marry. 

According to a March 2014 Washington Post/ABC News poll, 59 percent of Americans support marriage rights for committed and loving gay and lesbian couples.  That same month, Pew released poll results showing 61 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners under 30 favor marriage equality.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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