Marriage Equality Arrives in Alaska

Marriage Equality Arrives in Alaska

HRC Blog
October 12, 2014 by Stephen Peters

Today, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess ruled Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, making Alaska the latest state to see such a ban struck down in court since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic marriage rulings last June. In Hamby v. Parnell, five couples sued the state arguing that Alaska’s ban on marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution. In his ruling, Judge Burgess wrote, “The court finds that Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same sex marriages lawfully entered in other states is unconstitutional as a deprivation of basic due process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” With today’s ruling, 30 states plus the District of Columbia now guarantee marriage equality for same-sex couples. In 1998, Alaska’s constitutional amendment was the first state constitutional ban in the nation prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying.

“According to today’s federal court ruling in Alaska and numerous others over the last year, there is no justifiable reason to keep these discriminatory marriage bans on the books,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “The truth is, laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying serve no purpose other than to harm Americans who simply want to protect and provide for themselves and their families. Ultimately, the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to continue discriminating against committed and loving gay and lesbian couples.”

Barring an unexpected stay from either the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court of the United States, same-sex couples in Alaska can apply for marriage licenses when the clerks offices open.

Last Tuesday, a three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that state bans barring marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional. In a decision authored by Judge Reinhardt, who was joined by Judge Gould and Judge Berzon, the court found that Idaho and Nevada’s marriage bans violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on the basis of equal protection.

Last Monday, the nine justices of the Supreme Court announced they had declined to hear any of the cases pending before them challenging state bans on marriage for same-sex couples. This allowed the circuit court decisions striking down the bans to stand.

With Alaska, same-sex couples will now be able to legally marry in 30 states and the District of Columbia:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The decisions of the past week will likely soon have implications for the remaining states in the Ninth, Fourth and Tenth circuits: Arizona, Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

Gallup puts support for marriage equality at 55 percent – an astonishing 15 point increase from just 5 years ago – with other polls showing support at even higher margins. And support for same-sex marriage rights continues to grow in virtually every demographic group. According to ABC News / Washington Post, 77 percent of adults under age 30 favor marriage equality. 40 percent of Republicans – an all-time high and jump of 16 points in under two years – now support marriage for gay and lesbian couples, while the number of Catholics supporting marriage has grown to 62 percent, according to the New York Times. These numbers continue to grow, with no indication that support will slow down.

Following Supreme Court Announcement Proposition Love Jewelry Adds Five New Rings to “Countdown Collection”

Following Supreme Court Announcement Proposition Love Jewelry Adds

Five New Rings to “Countdown Collection”


NEW YORK – 10/6/14 –  Following this week’s Supreme Court announcement, Proposition Love Jewelry, a fine jewelry company that specializes in creating wedding rings designed for same-sex couples, is preparing “Countdown Collection” commemorative rings honoring the five newest states enjoying Marriage Equality:  Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In addition, Proposition Love Jewelry will be doubling the amount of its charitable proceeds from those five states marriage bands, from ten to twenty percent.

‘In light of this week’s Supreme Court decision, we are working at warp speed to design and manufacture the latest additions to our Countdown Collection,” said co-founder Jonathan Tack.

“We are proud to be giving twenty percent of the proceeds from sales of these newest Countdown Collection rings to a variety of fine organizations that have been working so hard so that every state can enjoy Marriage Equality,” said co-founder Sam Street.

Proposition Love Jewelry was founded in 2011 by jewelry industry veterans Sam Street and Jonathan Tack, a legally married couple.  Jewelry from Proposition Love is a symbol of LOVE and COMMITMENT to one another and a pledge to support the RIGHTS of ALL.  Proposition Love Jewelry proudly donates 10 percent of profits to organizations that support Marriage Equality, Gay Rights, LGBT Youth and Anti Bullying, and HIV / AIDS activism.    Learn more about the entire line of Proposition Love Jewelry at:


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NOTE TO EDITORS:  High Res Ring images available at:


Marriage equality comes to five more states

Marriage equality comes to five more states
10/06/14 10:30 AM—UPDATED 10/06/14 11:40 PM
By Emma Margolin

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected appeals to hear same-sex marriage cases out of Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin – all of which saw their bans fall in both federal district and appeals courts. The move immediately legalizes marriage equality in those five states, and will soon topple bans in six other states that make up the 4th, 7th, and 10th Circuits. Those states include Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming, bringing the total number of states where gay and lesbian couples can wed from 19 plus the District of Columbia to 30 – more than half the nation.

Decisions are expected any day now from both the 6th and 9th Circuits, which heard arguments challenging same-sex marriage bans earlier this year. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will also soon hear arguments in marriage equality cases out of Texas and Louisiana. So the Supreme Court will likely have more opportunities to review a same-sex marriage case this term, and possibly strike down bans across the country.

Monday’s action came as a surprise, as the high court was widely expected to hear at least one of the cases before it. Legal experts had predicted the justices might not grant review, however, since all the appeals courts have so far ruled in favor of marriage equality, leaving no “circuit split” for the Supreme Court to resolve.

view infographic
Interactive: The state of same-sex marriage in the US

That could change with forthcoming rulings from the 6th Circuit Court, which appeared skeptical of arguments in favor of same-sex marriage earlier this year, and from the 5th Circuit, widely considered one of the most conservative in the nation.

If the Supreme Court does agree to hear a marriage equality case later on, it now seems unlikely that the justices would uphold bans on same-sex nuptials and contradict Monday’s action.

Since June of 2013, when the high court invalidated a key portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), clearing the way for the U.S. government to begin recognizing legally valid same-sex marriages, there has been an unprecedented wave of legal triumphs for gay and lesbian couples. Out of 81 cases pending in 32 states, marriage equality has prevailed 41 times and lost only twice in both state and federal court.

The justices have gotten involved in marriage equality only three times since DOMA, twice delaying same-sex nuptials from going forward in Utah, and another time in Virginia. Some analysts saw the action as an encouraging sign that the high court would soon take up appeals out of thosesame-sex-marriage-teaser_0 states, as it did not make sense to block same-sex couples from marrying then only to allow them do so in a matter of months. But that argument proved incorrect with Monday’s action.

By denying review to marriage equality cases out of Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin, the justices allowed the federal appeals courts covering those states to have the last word. And that “word” was that banning same-sex nuptials violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee to equal protection and due process under the 14th Amendment. Marriage equality is now law of the land throughout those federal circuits, which is why six more states will soon see their same-sex marriage bans upended.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who has openly opposed his state’s same-sex marriage ban, called the Supreme Court’s action an “historic and long overdue moment” for the Commonwealth and the country. According to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, the first chief lawyer in the nation to successfully argue against his state’s same-sex marriage ban, Virginia clerks can begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples as early as 1 p.m., NBC News’ Pete Williams reported.
“On issues ranging from recognizing same-sex marriages to extending health care benefits to same-sex spouses of state employees, Virginia is already well-prepared to implement this historic decision,” McAuliffe said in the statement. “Going forward we will act quickly to continue to bring all of our policies and practices into compliance so that we can give marriage between same-sex partners the full faith and credit they deserve.”
Indiana’s Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued a less enthusiastic statement declaring that county clerks would be required by federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“Defending Indiana’s statue at trial and on appeal was our duty as attorney for our state government and was necessary,” said Zoeller. “Our legal system is based on the bedrock principle that both sides in a dispute will be zealously represented by counsel who will advocate for their clients so that the courts can weigh the arguments and decide. Our constitutional process for testing the validity of statutes worked as intended, and Indiana’s legal defense has been conducted with civility and respect for all sides and within existing resources.”

Evan Wolfson, founder and president of the pro-marriage equality group, Freedom to Marry, called Monday’s Supreme Court action “a huge step forward” in a statement. However, he also noted that the move “needlessly postpones the national resolution” his group and other marriage equality advocates are pushing for. Without a precedent-setting ruling from the Supreme Court in favor of marriage equality, some state bans on same-sex nuptials could conceivably be able to survive.

Republican lawmakers were largely silent on the Supreme Court’s action, except for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who called the move “tragic and indefensible.”

“By refusing to rule if the states can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution,” he said in a statement. “The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing. This is judicial activism at its worst.”

The Supreme Court Just Quietly Made Marriage Equality The Law Of The Land In Many States – Think Progress

The Supreme Court Just Quietly Made Marriage Equality The Law Of The Land In Many States
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Jeff Zarrillo, Paul Katami
In a surprising anti-climax to one of the most important legal battles of the last several decades, the Supreme Court announced today that it would not hear several cases where federal appeals courts held that the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the same marriage rights as straight couples. The announcement listed these marriage equality cases as part of a lengthy order listing the cases where the Court had denied review. The justices offered no explanation for their decision.
As a practical matter, however, this decision not to hear these cases is an earthquake for gay rights. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which covers Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, refused to issue a stay halting its order favoring marriage equality. Although the Supreme Court later stepped in with its own stay order, that order provides that the Supreme Court’s stay will “terminate automatically” if the Supreme Court denies review of the case. Now that the justices have done so, there should be no further legal barriers preventing marriages from beginning in those five states — although it is possible that there may be some delay before marriages may begin due to procedural steps that need to be taken by the jgay-married-couple-e1392386018147udiciary.
The Court also denied review in cases arising out of the Seventh Circuit, which covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, and in the Tenth Circuit, which covers Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. It is likely that marriages will be able to begin quickly in those states as well — although it may be necessary for plaintiffs in some of those states to seek an order from a federal court requiring states that oppose marriage equality to comply with their obligations under the Constitution.
One thing that should be noted is that there are still marriage equality cases pending before conservative circuits that could rule against equality. Nevertheless, the fact that marriages are likely to begin very shortly in the states currently subject to court orders will make it very difficult for the Supreme Court to reverse course — and retroactively invalidate those marriages — in a subsequent opinion.