Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard that the Supreme Court denied cert in all seven pending petitions in the marriage cases this morning. This is a wonderful victory for same-sex couples in Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah who will soon be able to marry and have their marriages performed in other states recognized . But what does that mean for the rest of us?
First, it will affect other states that lie within the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth circuits. They are now bound by circuit decisions recognizing marriage for same-sex couples. Within those circuits, some states already had marriage equality (Illinois, New Mexico, and Maryland). But now, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming are all bound by this decision and should soon begin issuing licenses and also recognizing marriages from out of state. This would bring the number of states with marriage equality to 30 and would mean that for the first time, a majority of 60% of Americans live in states where marriage is equal for same sex couples.
Twenty other states are still waiting on justice. Montana is one of them. Our couples in the Rolando Vs Fox litigation have waited on their day in court. They have been waiting for the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on similar cases in Idaho, Nevada and Hawaii.
Today’s decision from the Supreme Court of the United States does signal that marriage equality will proceed forward.
“We think the Supreme Court’s action this morning sends an unmistakable message that the court is comfortable with the lower courts’ decisions, and we think the lower courts will get that message loud and clear,” said Liz Welch, ACLU Montana’s LGBT advocacy coordinator in an interview with the Great Falls Tribune.
Our four plaintiff couples will have their day in court. And we are hopeful that the momentum that has carried marriage forward far faster than most people expected will also bring marriage for Montana.
This is a historic moment that the ACLU has been working towards for decades.
· From 1970, when we filed the country’s first freedom-to-marry lawsuit;
· to 2004, when we filed marriage lawsuits against six states and fought 13 state constitutional amendments;
· to 2008, when we helped win marriage in California and Connecticut;
· to 2012, when we helped win marriage at the ballot box in Maine, Maryland, and Washington
· to 2013, when we helped Edie Windsor take down the core of the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supreme Court, and helped win marriage in Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, and New Jersey,
· to 2014, when we helped win marriage through the courts in Oregon and Pennsylvania,
· to today, when we have marriage lawsuits against 13 states.
We will remain committed to this fight until there is marriage in every state because the harm to same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry is real. The freedom to marry should be available to everyone – that’s a core part of American equality.
You can sign a statement of support for marriage equality in Montana today!