(Updates) In Surprise Move, Supreme Court Clears Way for Gay Marriage in 5 States – Alaska Next?
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And the beat goes on:
Alaska Dispatch News has just reported that a federal judge ruled today “Alaska’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, paving the way for gay couples to begin marrying in the state for the first time.”
The ruling comes less than a week after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to overturn similar marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. Same-sex marriage advocates said the 9th Circuit ruling would likely lead to the quick overturn of Alaska’s ban on gay marriage because the bans were similar and Alaska also falls under the jurisdiction of that court.
Caitlin Shortell, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case, said, “It’s been a long time coming…It’s justice and equality in Alaska.”
We now await Sarah Palin’s comments…
Read more here.
A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times launched a neat, new morning e-mail newsletter and politics site within the Times called “First Draft.”
First Draft features political stories that are written that morning in the Times, “with Times reporters’ scoops, analysis and coverage of parties and events that’ll be found there first. Some, but certainly not all, First Draft items could develop later into full Times articles appearing online and in the next day’s print edition,” according to the Huffington Post.
In this morning’s First Draft, Jeremy Peters has an interesting take on the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage.
He asks, “Have Republicans given up the fight over same-sex marriage?” and comments:
Consider the rather muted responses on Monday from two top Republicans in states where the Supreme Court’s decision will have a direct and immediate impact.
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin sounded resigned. “For us, it’s over in Wisconsin,” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted him as saying.
In Virginia, where same-sex marriage ceremonies were underway within hours of the court’s decision, the Republican candidate for Senate, Ed Gillespie, also seemed to accept the decision for what it was.
“Obviously, given the court’s ruling,” he said, “it is the law of the land today.”
Not that long ago, Republicans could be expected to follow a predictable script on the issue: Judges who threw out voter-imposed bans on same-sex marriage were thwarting the democratic will.
Peters then reflects on the “potency” of the issue on the right and especially on how it will factor in the 2016 presidential race:
None of the prospective presidential candidates, including Mr. Walker, favor broadly extending marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. Doing so would almost certainly be politically fatal in the primaries, but could help in the general election.
So there was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, wooing social conservatives for a possible 2016 run, calling the Supreme Court’s move “tragic and indefensible.”
Read the full “First Draft” here.
While Ryan T. Anderson at the Daily Signal and others are displaying their wrath, Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel over at the Huffington Post are doing their math on how the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage sets the United States on a historic civil rights path.
They write, “when all is said and done in [Colorado, Wyoming, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina] (which could happen in short order, according to the Associated Press), same-sex marriage will be legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia.”
The total population of those  states, based on 2013 estimates from the Census Bureau, is about 190 million. Just over 60 percent of the U.S. population now lives in a state where marriage equality soon will be legal.
Prior to Monday, that total was just under 44 percent — if you discounted states where same-sex marriage was legalized but there were still court challenges. In all, the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday set the path for an additional 51,579,771 people to live in states with concrete same-sex marriage rights.
Breaking the 50 percent threshold represents a monumental achievement for the gay rights community — one that few could have envisioned just years ago. But it’s a touch bittersweet for advocates who will note that 48 percent of the population remains in areas where same-sex marriage is banned, and who were hoping the court would weigh in on whether marriage for same-sex couples is a constitutional right.
While Anderson laments that the Supreme Court decision is “an unfortunate setback for sound constitutional self-government and a setback for a healthy marriage culture,” and that “[i]n a system of limited constitutional self-government, the people and their elected representatives should be making decisions about marriage policy…. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the Constitution,” Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson, urges the Supreme Court to “finish the job”:
“[W]e are one country, with one Constitution, and the Court’s delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places,” said Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson. “As waves of freedom to marry litigation continue to surge, we will continue to press the urgency and make the case that America — all of America — is ready for the freedom to marry, and the Supreme Court should finish the job.”
The New York Times reports:
The Supreme Court on Monday denied review in all five pending same-sex marriage cases, clearing the way for such marriages to proceed in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The move was a major surprise and suggests that the justices are not going to intercede in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban.
Read more here
USA TODAY also reports that the Supreme Court decision will “bring along six other states located in the judicial circuits overseen by those appellate courts: North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming. Lower court judges in those states must abide by their appeals court rulings.”
The action eventually will bring to 30 the number of states where gays and lesbians can marry. Appeals courts in Cincinnati and San Francisco are considering cases that could expand that number further, presuming the Supreme Court remains outside the legal fray.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage, and the high court ruled last year that the federal government cannot deny benefits to such couples. It sidestepped the remaining state laws by taking no position on the merits of California’s ban, which had been struck down by lower federal courts.
Since those decisions were handed down, six additional states have legalized gay marriage, and federal and state judges in 14 more states have overturned marriage bans, beginning with Utah last December. All those rulings have been put on hold during the appeals process, leaving 31 bans in place.
Read more details here
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