News (USA)

What’s happening where? The latest developments in marriage equality…

Linda Mahaffey, left, and Teresa Bingham request a marriage license at the Albany County Clerk's Office in Laramie, Wyo., on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Lingering uncertainty over whether gay marriage is allowed in Wyoming prevented same-sex couples from marrying in the state Tuesday. In Laramie, the county clerk continued to set aside gay couples' marriage license applications.
Linda Mahaffey, left, and Teresa Bingham request a marriage license at the Albany County Clerk’s Office in Laramie, Wyo., on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Lingering uncertainty over whether gay marriage is allowed in Wyoming prevented same-sex couples from marrying in the state Tuesday. In Laramie, the county clerk continued to set aside gay couples’ marriage license applications. Chilton Tippin, AP

KEEPING THE BRAKES APPLIED

In some states affected by Monday’s Supreme Court action, officials are not yet instituting same-sex marriage, saying they think there’s still a gray area. Wyoming’s Republican governor said the state will defend its constitution’s definition of marriage as permissible only between a man and woman.

WAITING ON CINCINNATI

There also is growing anticipation for a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati.

A three-judge panel heard arguments two months ago on challenges to gay marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, the biggest hearing of its kind on the issue.

Its eventual ruling could help determine when or even whether the Supreme Court takes up the issue. There has been no indication of a timetable by the 6th Circuit.

“They (the judges) appreciate that it’s a very significant case, and they want to get a decision out,” says Pierre Bergeron, a Cincinnati attorney with deep experience in federal appellate cases. “On the other hand, it’s also a very complicated case … and they want to make sure they get it right. So that points to the direction that it may take longer.”

SO, HOW MANY STATES ALLOW SAME-SEX MARRIAGE?

Like many other things around same-sex marriage, there’s not a good answer. Before the Supreme Court’s denial, there were 19 states that firmly allowed gay marriage.

The Supreme Court’s action Monday added five states, plus six others that were affected because they were in the same federal circuits that appealed. That would make 30 states allowing gay marriage, but some of them are still trying to block it or haven’t yet instituted mechanisms for weddings.

Idaho and Nevada would have made 32, but Justice Kennedy temporarily blocked the Idaho ruling.

So, how many states allow gay marriage? As of Thursday at 8:00 p.m. EDT, same-sex marriage is legal in 27 states and the District of Columbia.

MEANWHILE, OVERSEAS

Estonia on Thursday became the first former Soviet nation to legalize gay partnerships, while Kyrgyzstan – another ex-Soviet republic thousands of miles east – considers anti-gay legislation.

The parallel moves reflect starkly divergent paths taken by the countries that once were parts of the Soviet empire.

In Estonia, lawmakers voted 40-38 to approve a partnership act that recognizes the civil unions of all couples regardless of sex. Twenty-three lawmakers were absent or abstained in the third and final reading of the bill. The new law will gives those in civil unions – heterosexual or gay – almost the same rights as married couples, including financial, social and health benefits provided by the government and legal protection for children. It does not give adoption rights for couples in such unions but does allow one partner to adopt the biological child of the other.

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