Wyoming added to same-sex marriage list
on Oct 21, 2014 at 1:19 pm
With the filing Tuesday of a one-paragraph notice by state officials in a federal courthouse in Casper, Wyoming, and the release of a two-page order by a federal judge, that state became the thirty-second to allow same-sex marriage — an increase of thirteen from what it was only sixteen days before.
The Wyoming governor and attorney general formally advised a federal judge that they would not appeal his ruling last Friday declaring the state’s ban on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional. The only two places where the state could have gone with an appeal would be the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which has struck down two such bans, and the Supreme Court, which has refused even to review or to delay any decisions against those prohibitions.
U.S. District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl had given Wyoming officials until Thursday of this week to seek an appeal. If it advised him that it would not appeal, the judge said, his decision would be put into effect immediately. State officials have already told county clerks across the state that they could begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples as soon as the judge’s order became final.
The developments in Wyoming showed anew the widening impact of three federal appeals courts’ decisions against state same-sex marriage bans. Although those decisions — left intact by the Supreme Court on October 6 — applied directly to five states, they were also binding throughout the regions of those federal courts, leading federal trial judges to apply them in a lengthening list of pending cases.
The Tenth Circuit’s decision striking down bans in Oklahoma and Utah has now spread across that circuit region to every state except Kansas, but lawsuits by same-sex couples are going forward in both state and federal courts there.
Of the eighteen states (including Kansas) where bans on such marriages remain in force as of today, two others are in states located in federal circuit regions where appeals courts have nullified such bans: South Carolina in the Fourth Circuit and Montana in the Ninth Circuit. Challengers are pressing ahead in both.
Among the other fifteen states, decisions appear to be likely to emerge any day for four states (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee) that are involved in cases pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Moving somewhat more slowly are appeals involving three other states (Louisiana and Texas, with bans under review in the Fifth Circuit, and Florida, in the Eleventh Circuit).
A ban in Mississippi will be affected by what the Fifth Circuit decides, and bans in Alabama and Georgia, by what the Eleventh Circuit decides.
Five states are in the Eighth Circuit’s area, and, while cases are pending in state or federal courts in each of those states, the regional court of appeals does not now have a same-sex marriage case before it. Its last ruling on the issue was eight years ago, upholding a Nebraska ban. That was the most recent ruling in favor of a ban by any federal appeals court. Besides Nebraska, the other states in that geographic area with bans still on the books are Arkansas, Missouri, and North and South Dakota. Again, challenges are underway in all but Nebraska.
All of the states located in the First, Second, Third, and Seventh Circuits now permit same-sex marriages, as does the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.