Same-sex couples won the right to marry in Alaska and Arizona on Friday, after separate court decisions ended bans in those states. And a third ruling in Wyoming means same-sex marriages there will begin next week.
The rulings bookend two weeks of legal wrangling, triggered by a U.S. Supreme Court decision on October 6 that declined to hear appeals of marriage rulings from five states. The action lead to marriage equality becoming law in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, and ultimately states under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 4th, 7th and 10th Circuits where bans were previously held as unconstitutional.
Within days, marriage equality arrived in Colorado (10th Circuit), West Virginia (4th) and North Carolina (4th) as those states either stopped defending their bans, or subsequent rulings were made under the controlling rulings of their Circuits. A ruling in Wyoming (10th) came Friday, leaving Kansas (10th) and South Carolina (4th) as the only states among those three Circuits where bans remain in place.
Meanwhile, out West, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit struck down bans in Idaho and Nevada on October 7. That decision led to subsequent rulings in Alaska and Arizona, leaving Montana as the only state in 9th Circuit still enforcing their ban.
When the dust settled, the U.S. went from 19 states with marriage equality to 32 in the span of just two weeks.
Here’s a recap of this week’s developments:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday tersely denied the state of Alaska’s request to put a stop to gay marriages pending an appeal. “The application for stay presented to Justice (Anthony) Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the one-sentence paragraph from the court said.
The denial means gay couples in Alaska who obtained marriage licenses earlier in the week could start getting married immediately.
A U.S. District Court judge on Sunday struck down the ban put in place by Alaska voters in 1998 limiting marriage to one man and one woman, ruling in a case brought by five gay couples who said the ban violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The ruling cleared the way for gay couples to begin applying for marriage licenses on Monday, triggering a three-day wait period until ceremonies could be held. However, some judges waived the three-day requirement, and at least two same-sex couples have already married.
Marriage equality arrived in Arizona on Friday after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and the state’s attorney general declined to appeal, saying continuing to fight the case would be futile and a waste of taxpayer dollars. The District Court ruling Friday overturns a 1996 state law and a 2008 voter-approved constitutional amendment that outlawed gay marriage.
With no waiting period in Arizona, same-sex couples began marrying immediately as county clerks in Phoenix, Tucson and around the state openly welcomed gay couples to obtain their marriage licenses.