The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday announced the justices will meet on Sept. 29 to discuss whether they will consider any of the seven petitions to hear same-sex marriage cases from Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin.
A three-judge panel with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond earlier this summer upheld U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen’s February ruling that found Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman unconstitutional. Federal appeals courts in Denver and Chicago have also struck down same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin respectively.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer and lawyers representing two of the same-sex couples in the case challenging the commonwealth’s marriage amendment are among those who have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the issue.
“Gay and lesbian couples in Virginia should not have to wait another day to enjoy their right to marry,” said Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Federation for Equal Rights, which represents Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk and Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield. “The distribution of our case for the court’s consideration brings us one step closer to our mission of marriage equality for all Americans. Our Constitution’s guarantee of liberty and equality soon will be realized for all loving and committed couples, no matter what state they reside in.”
Kyle Megrath of Hoosiers Unite for Marriage, a group that backs nuptials for gays and lesbians in Indiana, also responded to the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement.
“The news today that Indiana’s case will be considered by the Supreme Court at its first conference on Sept. 29 means that the highest court in the land could take up our case and determine whether same-sex Hoosier couples should be protected under law,” he said.
Gays and lesbians can legally marry in 19 states and D.C.
More than 30 federal and local judges have ruled in favor of marriage rights for same-sex couples since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman last week bucked this trend with his ruling that upheld the constitutionality of Louisiana’s gay nuptials ban.
Observers expect the justices will agree to consider at least one of the marriage cases during their upcoming term that begins on Oct. 1.