January 19th, 2015
On New Year’s Day Florida became the 36th state to legalize same-sex marriage. The progress made towards legalizing gay marriage in 2014 has made it known as the year for gay marriage and left many wondering if 2015 will be the year when every state will unite for marriage equality across the country. The Universal Life Church supports equality for everyone and takes an interest in following the legal battles being fought across the country.
Same-Sex Marriage Thus Far
Thirty-six states have legalized gay marriage to this point. Same-sex marriage is legal in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, as well as the District of Columbia. In 2014, the number of states that allowed same-sex marriage grew from 18 states to 35 states.
Massachusetts was the first state in the union to legalize same-sex marriage. In Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the court ruled that, “barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same-sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution.” The landmark decision in Goodridge opened the door for other states to follow suit. Justice Marshall gave the opinion in Goodridge arguing the principles of Lawrence v. Texas that the courts obligation was to “define liberty for all, not to mandate our own moral code.”
In United States v. Windsor, another victory was won for marriage equality when the court ruled Section III of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Section III blocked same-sex married couples from seeking federal benefits until found unconstitutional in 2013. Several appeals courts across the country have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. In October of 2014, the Supreme Court denied to hear same-sex marriage state appeals of lower court decisions that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional and in effect allowing same-sex marriage to precede in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Same-Sex Marriage Battles to Come
The decision of the Supreme Court to not hear same-sex marriage cases now brings to question whether the court will also refuse to hear appeals from states where lower court decisions upheld the same-sex marriage bans of those states. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is the only court thus far that has ruled to uphold bans on same-sex marriage. This month the Supreme Court will make the decision on whether or not to hear the appeals from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee where state bans on same-sex marriage have been upheld in lower courts.
The decision the Supreme Court will make this month on whether or not to hear state appeals on same-sex marriage will play a crucial role on whether or not same-sex marriage will be acknowledge throughout the nation by the end of 2015. Universal Life Church Case Law will continue to follow the battle over same-sex marriage throughout the year.