Supreme Court Clears the Way for Marriage Equality THREE Times

by Stephen Peters

Supreme Court continues to affirm over and over again same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, but anti-LGBT forces just won’t listen


WASHINGTON– Today, the Supreme Court of the United States denied a request by the state of Alaska to stay U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess’ ruling striking down Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. This is the third time the Supreme Court has cleared the way for marriage equality to move forward.

A full feature map on the current state of marriage equality can be found here.

“Requesting a stay in Alaska was nothing more than a petty, last-ditch effort to stop equality,” said Sarah Warbelow, HRC’s Legal Director. “Continued delay would have only prolonged harm to Americans who simply want to protect and provide for their families. Court after court has affirmed that the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to discriminate against committed and loving gay and lesbian couples, and this decline to extend the stay suggests the Supreme Court clearly agrees.”

First Time: On Monday, October 6th, the nine justices of the Supreme Court announced they had declined to hear any of the five cases pending before them challenging state bans on marriage for same-sex couples in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Indiana. This allowed the circuit court decisions striking down the bans to stand and marriage equality to move forward.

Second Time: On Friday, October 10th, the Supreme Court denied a request to stay same-sex marriages in Idaho, clearing the way for marriage equality to move forward.

Third Time:  Today, the Supreme Court denied a request for a stay on the decision of Judge Burgess, who ruled Alaska’s ban unconstitutional. On October 15th, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had put Alaska’s same-sex marriages temporarily on hold for two days to allow appellants the opportunity to seek a stay from the Supreme Court.

In Hamby v. Parnell, five couples sued the state arguing that Alaska’s ban on marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution. In his ruling, Judge Burgess wrote, “The court finds that Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same sex marriages lawfully entered in other states is unconstitutional as a deprivation of basic due process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” Consequently, in 1998, Alaska’s constitutional amendment was the first state constitutional ban in the nation prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying. The Supreme Court's decision once again cleared the way for marriage equality to move forward.

This begs to question why anti-LGBT forces are continuing to defend these discriminatory laws, in many cases wasting taxpayer dollars for these futile and discriminatory efforts. After clearing the way for marriage equality to move forward three times, the Supreme Court seems to clearly agree that the U.S. Constitution does not permit states to discriminate against committed and loving gay and lesbian couples.

Earlier today, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick ruled against Arizona’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. With these decisions, same-sex couples are now able to legally marry in 31 states and the District of Columbia, including: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Gallup puts support for marriage equality at 55 percent – an astonishing 15 point increase from just 5 years ago – with other polls showing support at even higher margins.  And support for same-sex marriage rights continues to grow in virtually every demographic group.  According to ABC News / Washington Post, 77 percent of adults under age 30 favor marriage equality.  40 percent of Republicans – an all-time high and jump of 16 points in under two years – now support marriage for gay and lesbian couples, while the number of Catholics supporting marriage has grown to 62 percent, according to the New York Times. These numbers continue to grow, with no indication that support will slow down.

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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