Same-Sex Marriage Ban: How States Are Calling All the Shots

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Gay marriage has become a states rights issue, a policy decision made on a case by case basis and influenced by the values and viewpoints of each state going t0 trial over marriage bans. This was clearly the intent of the Supreme Court when it ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act in its chosen language. Justice Anthony Kennedy ruled that federally refusing to recognize marriages “impose[s] a disadvantage, a separate status.” But he also made it very clear that this would fall in the hands of states. “The significance of state responsibilities for the definition and regulation of marriage dates to the nation’s beginning,” said Kennedy.

Just as was intended, states are taking on the issue separately, as couples and organizations sue the state to overturn the marriage ban. Unsurprisingly, this has led to a variety of responses from states with different religious backgrounds and more or less conservative legal systems. Even for states that have ruled against the ban, the timeline before marriages are allowed is dependent on appeals in some states. The way this has worked state to state has been varied, and is symptomatic of some states’ hesitancy to allow marriage if there’s a chance it can be prevented once more at the court level.

Idaho, for example, had its marriage ban overturned — however, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that marriages would not be allowed until a decision had been made on whether or not to appeal the case. Compared to Oregon, where no government entity was desirous of an appeal and the National Organization for Marriage, which tried, was rejected, Idaho’s governor hopes to appeal the decision. Pennsylvania saw a federal judge strike down its ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday, and the district judge, John Jones, had no such qualms about allowing marriages. Judge Jones ordered that all could marry immediately. “By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth,” he said, according to CNN.