SCOTUS Punts on Same-Sex Marriage, Opens Door for Gay Marriage in 30 States

The Supreme Court announced today it will not take up the issue of marriage equality in its current term, which may leave intact federal court rulings that apply to 11 states that will overturned bans on same-sex marriage.

This non-decision comes unexpectedly and was announced without an explanation. By declining to take up the issue, legal experts say that federal appeals court rulings striking down gay-marriage bans in five states—Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Utah—will stand. It will also allow for gay marriage in six other states in those federal judicial circuits: Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Along with states that currently allow for same-sex marriage, this should eventually allow for same-sex marriage in 30 states and the number may still grow as other federal courts are currently weighing gay marriage bans.

Activists on both sides of the marriage-equality debate called on the Supreme Court to resolve the issue.

Last year, the court invalidated parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, hinting it could eventually support same-sex marriage. It struck down part of the federal law that denied family benefits to married gay and lesbian couples.

The court requires that four of its nine justices must vote to hear a case. They could still hear the issue at a later time. If another federal court upholds gay-marriage bans, the split between court decisions may prompt the court to take action. 

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