Where Things Stand: What Today’s Supreme Court Action Means for Marriage Equality

by Charles Joughin

Today five states – with possibly six more to follow – have joined the nineteen where same-sex couples can legally marry (plus Washington, DC)

WASHINGTON – With today’s Supreme Court action allowing federal circuit court rulings in favor of marriage equality to stand, nearly half of all states now allow same-sex couples to legally marry.  What’s more, the Colorado Attorney General has already indicated his state will be working swiftly to ensure same-sex couples in the Centennial State can legally marry, based on today’s news from the Supreme Court and a previous federal district court ruling striking down that state’s marriage ban.  The unprecedented expansion of marriage rights across the country largely mimics the meteoric pace at which public support for marriage equality has grown in recent years.  Take a look at a few data points on where we are today:

·       As of today, same-sex couples can legally marry in 24 states, plus Washington, DC. (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin)

·       This time last year, same-sex couples could legally marry in only 13 states and Washington, DC – roughly half of where we are today.

·       Today 52 percent of Americans live in a state with marriage equality.  One year ago only 30 percent could.  If the other states within the federal appeals court jurisdictions impacted by today’s ruling grant marriage equality, that number will rise to 60 percent. 

·       Ten years ago only 42 percent of Americans supported marriage rights for same-sex couples, according to Gallup.  Today, support is at 55 percent – with some polls putting support even higher at upwards of 59 percent. 

·       Cases from seven other states are pending before two federal appeals courts – the Sixth Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee) and the Ninth Circuit (Hawaii, Idaho and Nevada).  Rulings and appeals from those courts could reach the Supreme Court this term, although it is likely they would be on the docket during the next term. 

·       Of the 24 states where same-sex couples can legally marry today, 13 came through court decisions and 11 came through legislative or ballot initiative victories. 

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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