In the order list from decisions made at the Sept. 29 conference, the Supreme Court indicates it has denied each of the seven petitions for certiorari in the cases of Kitchen v. Herbert, Bishop v. Smith, Bostic v. Rainey, Baskin v. Bogan and Wolf v. Walker
The decision means same-sex couples will be able to wed in the immediate future in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin as soon as federal appeals courts issue mandates to make final their decisions striking down bans on same-sex marriage in those states.
Sarah Trumble, policy counsel for the Third Way, said the denial of certiorari makes sense given the unanimous decisions against the bans on same-sex marriage at the circuit level.
“Every Circuit Court that has ruled on marriage for gay couples has ruled in favor. If the Supreme Court thought that was a problem, they could have easily taken up one of these cases to put a stop to it—but they didn’t because the decisions we’ve seen so obviously follow from their opinion last year in Windsor,” Trumble said. “And this won’t lead to a red state-blue state problem either—with cases moving in every single non-marriage state, it’s only a matter of time before marriage spreads nationwide.”
The denial of certiorari means the court is putting off making a nationwide decision on the constitutional right to same-sex marriage. It would require another petition for certiorari to be filed before the court in a marriage case, but even then justices could once again decline to hear the litigation.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, cheered the move from the court, but said justices must act at a later time make a nationwide decision on marriage equality.
“Any time same-sex couples are extended marriage equality is something to celebrate, and today is a joyous day for thousands of couples across America who will immediately feel the impact of today’s Supreme Court action,” said Griffin. “But let me be clear, the complex and discriminatory patchwork of marriage laws that was prolonged today by the Supreme Court is unsustainable. The only acceptable solution is nationwide marriage equality and we recommit to ourselves to securing that ultimate victory as soon as possible.”
In addition to bringing marriage equality to each of the five states which had lawsuits pending before the Supreme Court, the denials are expected to invalidate bans on same-sex marriage in other states within the same circuits. Those states in the Fourth Circuit are West Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and those in the Tenth Circuit are Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said the Supreme Court at later time must go a step further to make the right of same-sex couples to wed a reality throughout the country.
“We are one country, with one Constitution, and the Court’s delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places,” Wolfson said. “As waves of freedom to marry litigation continue to surge, we will continue to press the urgency and make the case that America – all of America — is ready for the freedom to marry, and the Supreme Court should finish the job.”
According to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, a total of 44,540 same-sex couples co-habitate in the five states that now have marriage equality as a result of denial of certiorari.
Here’s more detail about those numbers:
* Indiana — In Indiana, there are more than 11,000 cohabiting same-sex couples, of whom an estimated 17 percent are raising more than 3,200 children in their homes.
* Oklahoma — In Oklahoma, there are more than 6,100 cohabiting same-sex couples, of which an estimated 21 percent are raising more than 2,500 children in their homes.
* Utah — In Utah, there are more than 3,900 same-sex couples, of whom an estimated 20 percent are raising nearly 1,600 children in their homes.
* Virginia — In Virginia, there are more than 14,200 cohabiting same-sex couples, of whom an estimated 18 percent are raising more than 4,000 children in their homes.
* Wisconsin — In Indiana, there are nearly 9,200 cohabiting same-sex couples, of whom an estimated 20 percent are raising nearly 3,200 children in their homes.