Huge news out of the Supreme Court on Friday. It has agreed to take on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans. And with its decision, the Court could establish full marriage equality nationwide.
As always, I have some takeaways. Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Court will rule on two issues: The Court has consolidated four cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee and limited the issues to the following questions:
A. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license marriage between two people of the same sex?
B. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state?
You can read the entire order here. The case will be heard in late April, and the Court will likely issue its decision late June.
2. We got here thanks to the 6th Circuit: You may remember that the Supreme Court previously decided not to take up the constitutionality of these bans, most likely because there was no disagreement among the circuit courts. However, the 6th Circuit’s ruling in November that the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee bans were constitutional created a split and made the issue ripe for the High Court.
3. Momentum is on our side: No one knows what is going to happen. But at this point, 36 states recognize same-sex marriages, and the Court’s most recent decisions allowing marriages in Florida to continue, not reviewing the decisions of the 4th, 7th, and 10th Circuits striking the bans, and the Windsor decision all bode well for marriage equality. It’s hard not to be optimistic.
4. What happens if the Court rules that the bans are constitutional? According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 70 marriage cases have been filed and are making their way through the judicial system. While an adverse Supreme Court ruling wouldn’t overturn all pending cases immediately, it would provide ultimate precedence for the lower courts to uphold the bans. That would likely ensure several more years of litigation and uncertainty throughout the nation.
So now we wait.
I’ve said this several times, but it’s worth repeating: I hope you’re paying attention to this moment. Marriage equality has been a defining issue of our time, and we are lucky enough to be a part of that change.
I had the pleasure of marrying the man that has significantly shaped the last 13 years of my life, and I hope that everyone gets the chance to share in that type of experience.