The Changing Map of Marriage Equality in the US

Recent court decisions regarding marriage bans in three states have once again altered the map for marriage equality in the US.



A July 18 ruling from the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirming a district court decision that struck down Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage makes that state the second –– after Utah –– in which that circuit's appeals court has held such restrictions on the freedom to marry are unconstitutional. The 10th Circuit stayed its rulings in both states.

On July 17, a Monroe County judge in Key West struck down Florida's ban on same-sex marriage. Little more than a week earlier, on July 9, an Adams County, Colorado, judge found that state's marriage ban unconstitutional. This year, states courts in three states –– Arkansas, in addition to Colorado and Florida –– struck down bans. In all three cases, appeals are underway and stays have been issued.

On July 23, a federal district court in Denver made Colorado an exceptional case, striking down the marriage ban there two weeks after a state court did so. Though that ruling has also been stayed, the county clerk in Boulder has for several weeks been issuing marriage licenses, citing the federal appellate decision finding that Utah's marriage ban is unconstitutional issued by the 10th Circuit, where Colorado is located. Colorado's attorney general, who prevailed on clerks in Adams County, Denver, and Pueblo to stop issuing licenses , has not yet succeeded in halting licenses from being issued in Boulder.

In addition to Colorado, Utah, and Oklahoma, since the first of the year, federal district courts have issued marriage equality rulings in nine other states: Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Texas, and Idaho. All of those rulings have been stayed pending appeal.

Gay and lesbian couples enjoy marriage rights in the District of Columbia and 19 states –– including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii.

In the 17 remaining states, lawsuits are underway in state and/ or federal court seeking the right to marry for same-sex couples.