On Oct. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review all seven same-sex marriage cases pending before it. The Court’s refusal to hear the appeals meant that the lower court decisions striking down same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin took effect right away.
The immediate effects are twofold. First, the Court’s action (or inaction) allowed same-sex marriages to begin or resume in those five states as early as Oct. 6. Second, the Court’s orders also meant that same-sex marriages validly performed in other states must be recognized as valid in those states.
The impact of the Court’s decision, however, is far broader than the five states from which the seven petitions for certiorari arose. Indeed, it means same-sex marriages are constitutionally permitted and protected in all states within the 4th Circuit (Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia), the 7th Circuit (Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin) and the 10th Circuit (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming).
Same-sex marriages were already recognized and permitted in 19 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) plus the District of Columbia.