The Supreme Court’s decision to deny, for now, appeals in seven same-sex marriage cases means the unions will probably be legal in a majority of states, and for a majority of Americans, for at least the near future.
Before Monday’s decision to deny hearing the appeals from three federal circuit courts, which were related to five states, 31 states had same-sex marriage bans on their books. Now, same-sex marriages are or shortly will be legal in 30 states, until the Supreme Court says otherwise.
Until today, about 43 percent of Americans had gay-marriage rights, according to 2013 population estimates.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said on Monday that the Court’s action was a watershed moment, at least for now.
“The court’s letting stand these victories means that gay couples will soon share in the freedom to marry in 30 states, representing 60 percent of the American people,” said Wolfson. (Current 2013 population projections put the number at 59.7 percent, according to government data.)
As October started, eight states had legalized gay marriage by an act of their legislatures: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont . Another three states, Maine, Maryland, and Washington, approved same-sex marriage by popular vote.
And eight other states saw the unions legalized through court decisions: California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.
That brought the total of states to 19 states, with legalized same-sex marriages, before the Supreme Court decision on Monday to deny the appeals from the following five states: Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
According to Robert Barnes of the Washington Post, since the appeals came from federal circuits that contain other states, the current rulings in the three circuits should extend to six more states: Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
That brings the total of states where same-sex marriages will be legal to 30 states and also the District of Columbia, depending on how the legal process works in the six additional states affected by today’s decision.
Barnes also said that in federal and state courts since the ruling in U.S. v. Windsor last year, 40 rulings have held that state-sanctioned same-sex marriage bans violated the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection, while two rulings upheld the bans.
That total could jump to 35 states and the District of Columbia if the Ninth Circuit rules to strike down a same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada, which also would also affect Alaska, Arizona and Montana.
Recent public polls show that about 52 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage. A decade ago, that number stood at 31 percent.
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