This is a big fucking deal. Chris Geidner:

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The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will take up four cases challenging state bans on same-sex couples’ marriages—a long anticipated move that could lead to nationwide marriage equality. The cases ask the justices whether Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee bans on same-sex couples’ marriages and bans on recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages from out of state violate the Constitution’s due process and equal protection guarantees. There will be 90 minutes of argument on the marriage question, with 60 minutes of argument on the marriage recognition question.

The coming showdown before the justices over same-sex couples’ marriage rights has quickly become seen as inevitable following the Nov. 6, 2014, decision of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The ruling set up a disagreement with other appeals courts to have considered the issue; the 4th Circuit, 7th Circuit, 9th Circuit, and 10th Circuit courts of appeals all have struck down such bans on various grounds. The justices generally step in once such a circuit split has been created—a fact referenced last year by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she was discussing the pending marriage cases across the country—and, on Friday, the justices took the leap.

Says Evan Wolfson:

"The Supreme Court's decision today to hear a marriage case is another giant step toward the freedom to marry the Constitution promises us all. The country is now that much closer to the national resolution that a majority of Americans—including courts, attorneys general, elected officials, and businesses—are calling for. Over the coming months, we will continue to make the case that America is ready for the freedom to marry and ready to be on the right side of history, with liberty and justice for all."

Says Ana Marie Cox:


Says Richard Kim:


Says me:


I also sez:

Everyone is talking about what will happen if SCOTUS rules for us: MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN ALL 50 STATES, MOTHER FUCKERS. But no one is talking about what will happen if SCOTUS rules against us. Do we lose marriage in just four states? Are other states at risk? Some state have legalized marriage equality via the legislature—like Washington State—and others have had it legalized by state supreme court decisions, others by appellate court decisions. So what happens, and what happens where, if SCOTUS rules against us? I'm asking around and will report back when I hear back.

UPDATE: Jon Davidson, Legal Director at Lambda Legal, sent a long email explaining what would happen if SCOTUS ruled against us. It isn't pretty. Email after the jump...

If the Supreme Court were to rule in the cases in which it today granted review that the U.S. Constitution does not protect same-sex couple's right to marry and does not require states to respect marriages same-sex couples lawfully have entered in other jurisdictions, a number of issues would arise.

With respect to same-sex couples who already have married as a result of court rulings, Lambda Legal strongly believes—as a federal district court in Michigan ruled just yesterday with respect to marriages entered in that state before the 6th Circuit's adverse ruling—that those marriages will remain valid and will need to continue to be respected by the states in which those marriages were entered. Nonetheless, the validity of those couples' marriages may be challenged and those couples may want to take additional steps (such as executing wills, durable health care powers of attorney, and securing second parent adoptions) to provide them and their families extra peace of mind and security.

With respect to whether same-sex couples would be able to marry and would have their marriages respected in other states, that would vary from state to state. States in which marriage equality was achieved by a ruling under the state's constitution, by legislative reform, or at the ballot box, would be unaffected. Unmarried same-sex couples in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee (the states whose marriage laws the Supreme Court today agreed to review) would be forced to seek reform through the political process. States in which a final judgment has been obtained in federal court would be required to continue to allow same-sex couples to marry and to respect out-of-state marriages entered by same-sex couples unless and until someone with standing makes a motion to reopen the judgment and that motion is granted (unless stays are properly obtained before then). In some states, there may be no one with standing interested in seeking to set aside the existing judgment. Same-sex couples in states in which a judgment is on appeal or can still be appealed whose judgments have not been stayed should be able to continue to marry and to have their out-of-state marriages honored by the state until the existing judgment is stayed or reversed.

There's no question that it would be a mess. This is one additional reason why the Supreme Court should reverse the 6th Circuit's aberrant decision and hold that same-sex couples, like all other couples, share the fundamental right to marry and that it violates federal guarantees of equality and liberty to refuse to allow them to marry or to deny recognition to the marriages they lawfully have entered in other states.

Jon W. Davidson
Legal Director and Eden/Rushing Chair*
Lambda Legal