Today marks an important day for marriage equality in the United States as the Supreme Court refused to review several circuit court rulings that strike down state bans on same sex marriage. It means that marriage equality will be recognized in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Nancy Pelosi’s reaction, In a statement, reflected the reality that discriminatory laws, like those opposing marriage equality, should be swept to the dustbin of history.
Today’s action by the Supreme Court to decline challenges to marriage equality victories in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin represents progress for all Americans. As we celebrate the cascade of decisions in favor of marriage equality, we must renew our determination to sweep discriminatory laws into the dustbin of history.
There is no argument for and no justice in sustaining these unconstitutional laws that deny the reality of LGBT families in states across the country. No couple should have to live in fear that their marriage will be invalidated, that the death of a spouse may lead to a forced eviction, or that a distant relative can have more influence in health-related decisions that a loving partner.
We cannot rest until all LGBT Americans in every community, in every state can enjoy the benefits of full citizenship. Congress must act to pass the Respect For Marriage Act to fully repeal the remainder of the deeply discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and ensure that all families are fully recognized and honored – no matter where they live. Whether at home or in the workplace, the progress of equality will not be denied.
In hindsight, this decision was predictable because there was a consensus among the Circuit Court’s in favor of marriage equality. Several of them based their rulings on the Supreme Court’s reasoning in U.S. v. Windsor, in the ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
Ironically, one of the Supreme Court’s staunchest opponents of marriage equality, Justice Antonin Scalia predicted this outcome in his dissent.
While the Supreme Court has yet to rule on the constitutionality of marriage equality, it’s actions so far, weigh in marriage equality’s favor.
If, by some chance, a circuit court strikes down a state law in favor of marriage equality, it’s likely the Supreme Court will take the case.
However, as marriage equality becomes the norm in America, it becomes increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for the Supreme Court to uphold a ban. To do so, would amount to creating confusion for same sex couples who marry, and a court subsequently upholds a ban.
Indeed, the SCOTUS granted stays in the enforcement of earlier court rulings that struck down same sex marriage to prevent that sort of confusion. The court wanted to prevent that confusion in Utah, when it issued a stay to prevent enforcement of a court ruling that struck the state’s ban down. It’s even less likely that the Court would want to create this sort of confusion nation wide. Before today, 20 states recognize same sex marriage. Today’s decision adds five more and it’s likely another six states will be added to the list in the coming weeks. With 31 states recognizing marriage equality and the passage of time, that confusion would spell legal chaos if the Court eventually decided to uphold a ban on marriage equality.