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Court allows same-sex marriages in Alaska

Keeping to itself its reasons for doing the same thing again, the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon rejected a plea to stop same-sex marriages from going ahead in Alaska.  By denying the state’s plea for postponement, in a one-sentence order that did not provide any explanation, the Court’s action had the effect of making that state the thirty-first in which gays and lesbians can marry legally.

The Court released its order just moments before a temporary delay imposed by a federal appeals court was due to expire.  With that expiration, a federal trial judge’s order finding Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional went into effect, allowing the issuance of marriage licenses in that state.

Of the nine states that are located in the geographic area of the federal courts’ Ninth Circuit, only Montana retains a ban on same-sex marriage. Four couples in that state have filed a constitutional challenge.  The cascade of lower court rulings expanding the rights of gays and lesbians to marry in that region began with a decision last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit striking down such bans in Idaho and Nevada.

Earlier in the day Friday, the ban in Arizona was nullified, and the state decided that it would have no chance with an appeal to the Ninth Circuit and so advised county clerks that they could start issuing marriage licenses.

Just as the lower federal courts had issued a string of decisions (with one exception so far) striking down state bans on same-sex marriages, the Supreme Court itself has issued several orders just this month with the combined effect of adding a dozen states to the list where such unions are now legal.  Before the Court began acting on October 6, with a denial of rulings by three separate federal appeals courts, there were nineteen states where gays and lesbians could marry, along with Washington, D.C.


Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, Court allows same-sex marriages in Alaska, SCOTUSblog (Oct. 17, 2014, 3:03 PM),