US Supreme Court will not review gay marriage cases this session

The U.S. Supreme Court justices announced Monday that they will not be taking up gay marriage this term. The move, which came as a surprise to many advocates, will allow for same-sex couples to marry in five states that previously banned the unions. Ashley Westerman has more from Washington, DC.

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Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin all asked the Supreme Court to take up their petitions to overturn Appeals Court rulings that struck down their state’s bans on same-sex marriage.

Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog, a law blog that tracks Supreme Court cases, says the high court’s decision against granting a review of any of the cases at this time “means in these five Court of Appeals decisions, those decisions can now go into effect without the formal, legal blessing of the Supreme Court.”

Denniston says the Supreme Court’s move also paves the way for six more states to legalize same-sex marriage in the coming weeks. North and South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming are states also under the jurisdiction of the appeals courts that struck down gay marriage bans.

Ultimately, because of the high court’s decision, Denniston says the number of states allowing same sex marriage could increase from 19 to 35.

Many gay marriage advocates have praised the court’s decision to stay out of the issue.

Tony London is one of the plaintiffs in Bostic v. Schaefer, the challenge to Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. London and his partner Tim Bostic have been together 25 years, and said during a conference call with reporters Monday that his excitement can’t be put into words. “We’re finally going to recognized as individuals that have gotten together, who love each other and are going to be able to spend the rest of their lives together, and we have that acknowledged by all people now,” said London. “And that was the key, acknowledge what’s going on.”

The Supreme Court’s decision to not take up same-sex marriage this term came as a surprise. Advocates both for and against gay marriage, as well as legal analysts, thought the high court would want to weigh in on such an important issue — and some think the Supreme Court needs to.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, released a statement saying that even though it is a joyous day for thousands of couples, “the complex and discriminatory patchwork of marriage laws that was prolonged today by the Supreme Court is unsustainable…the only acceptable solution is nationwide marriage equality.”

While the issue of same-sex marriage could crop back up again before the Supreme Court, Denniston of SCOTUSblog says the only way that would happen is if there is a split in decisions at the appeals court level and “at that point with a split, the Supreme Court might well agree to get involved but it would be much more awkward to do it at that point after what they did today.”

The Supreme Court began their Fall session today.

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