High Court Turns Away Gay Marriage Appeals in Five States, Including Indiana
The Supreme Court has turned away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriages, paving the way for an immediate expansion of gay and lesbian unions.
The justices on Monday did not comment in rejecting appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The court's order immediately ends delays on marriage in those states. Couples in six other states should be able to get married in short order.
That would make same-sex marriage legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia. But the justices have left unresolved for now the question of same-sex marriage nationwide.
Supporters of same-sex marriage in Indiana say they are "ecstatic'' with the high court's decision.
American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said Monday that the high court's decision not to hear appeals in the cases of Indiana and four other states means same-sex marriage "is now a reality'' in Indiana.
He says same-sex marriages can now legally resume in the state, but he expects it to take several days for many county clerks to begin issuing licenses.
Hundreds of same-sex couples were married across the state after a federal judge struck down the state's ban in June. County clerks across Indiana are reviewing the Supreme Court's decision.
Monroe County Chief Deputy Clerk Nicole Brown says she expects the clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the county's attorney reviews Monday's events.
The Indiana attorney general's office said it would release a statement in response to the order Monday.
As NPR's Nina Totenberg reported in her preview of the court's new term on today's Morning Edition:
"Right now, the only cases pending before the court are lower court decisions favoring the right of same-sex couples to marry. But a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals panel, which heard arguments last August in Ohio, sounded as if it might go the other way. If it does, that would provide the kind of traditional conflict the Supreme Court looks to resolve."
Update at 10:15 a.m. ET: SCOTUS Calendar And The 'Best Vehicle'
Today's news comes as a surprise to those who suspected the justices might review a same-sex marriage case during the court's new term in order to add more legal clarity to a contentious issue. But it was absent from the court's list of new cases that was issued last week, and it was also missing from additional orders released Monday morning.
The high court held its opening conference last Wednesday; today marks the start of its October term, which will run through June 2015.
On complicated and important issues such as gay marriage, the Supreme Court looks for cases that it sees as the "best vehicle" to decide the issue, an elusive standard whose requirements include strong and clear arguments on both sides of a particular case. As Nina reported this morning, the lawyers who have been touting their own same-sex marriage cases as the best vehicle for the court were said to have "sounded more like car salesmen than Supreme Court advocates."