As of this morning, there are five new marriage equality states, and that number could quickly grow to 11. That brings the total to 25, 31 once the courts clarify that the rulings apply to their entire circuits.
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected appeals from five states that lost cases challenging their bans on same-sex marriage at the appeals court level. Those five states — Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana — had appealed those rulings to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in rejecting those appeals, the Supreme Court in essence upheld appellate court rulings declaring same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.
However, because the appellate courts had stayed their rulings pending the outcome of appeals, same-sex marriages in those five states had been on hold. Until today. With SCOTUS’ decision to reject the appeals, the stays are lifted and the weddings can commence.
The ruling of the appeals courts should apply to all states in those circuits that had cases heard or pending before those courts. That’s why the number of states with marriage equality in place could grow so quickly to 11.
Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming are in the same circuit as Utah and Oklahoma. West Virginia, North and South Carolina are in the same circuit as Virginia. Those additional states may also have marriage equality as of this morning.
So far all the federal appellate courts that have ruled on marriage equality cases have ruled against same-sex marriage bans. The fact that there has been no disagreement among the federal appellate courts is what allowed SCOTUS to, basically, punt on the issue.
However, the Fifth Circuit and the Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeals, both of which tend to be more conservative than other federal appellate courts, both have marriage equality cases pending. Should one or both of those appellate courts allow a marriage ban to stand, SCOTUS would then be forced to resolve the question once and for all.
Texas is among the states with marriage equality cases pending before the Fifth Circuit.