SCOTUS Rejection Of Gay Marriage Cases Will Create Legal Domino Effect

Oct 6, 2014
Originally published on October 6, 2014 6:30 pm
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The Supreme Court has declined to hear appeals in five same-sex marriage cases. That surprise move today means that gay and lesbian couples can now legally marry in Utah, Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin. The decision also sets in place a legal domino effect that will sanction same-sex marriage in 30 states in all. NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports on reaction from across the country.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: The decision had near immediate impact as county clerks in the five states started performing weddings.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I, Amy...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: I, Amy....

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: ...Choose you, Lianne...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: ...Choose you, Lianne...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: ...To be my lawful partner.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: ...To be my lawful partner.

LUDDEN: That from a video of a tearful couple in Indianapolis posted on the Courier-Journal. Rob MacPherson was one of the plaintiffs in the Indiana suit the Supreme Court rejected. He told reporters he and his husband have been together 27 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROB MACPHERSON: We've been married a couple times now. We were legal in 2008 in California, then we weren't here. We were legal for two-and-a-half days in June, and now we're legal-legal and no one can take that away. So that's awesome, and it feels great.

LUDDEN: Utah's governor expressed disappointment over today's ruling, as did other state officials hoping to uphold bans on same-sex marriages. But Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes says it's important to finally have clarity on this deeply personal issue.

SEAN REYES: It's time for people of goodwill on both sides of the issue to come together now and heal any rifts that had occurred.

LUDDEN: The Supreme Court's decision means six other states will now be bound by appellate rulings legalizing same-sex marriage. They are West Virginia, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, South Carolina and North Carolina. That's where Ellen Gerber had a one-word reaction.

ELLEN GERBER: Relieved.

LUDDEN: Gerber has her own case that's been on hold, asking North Carolina to recognize her out-of-state marriage to Pearl Berlin, her partner of 48 years. Now since the high court decided not to hear a case, Gerber says hers should move faster.

GERBER: And the sooner, the better. Pearl's 90th birthday is January 6, and I want us to have a party and be legally recognized as married in North Carolina at that time.

LUDDEN: But not everyone thinks today's move is the last word on this issue for the Supreme Court justices.

PHIL BURESS: Denying cert does not mean that they agree with the decisions.

LUDDEN: Phil Buress heads Citizens for Community Values in Cincinnati, Ohio. The sixth circuit court of appeals there is weighing a handful of cases, and many believe it will be the first to uphold bans on same-sex marriage.

BURESS: These are all different cases all across the country, and it's proper for the Supreme Court to wait until all these cases get before them. I do believe that the Supreme Court will probably take this up in the next session.

LUDDEN: The question then would be whether the court is willing to take back a right that's set to take hold across a solid majority of country. Jennifer Ludden, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.