In a surprise move, the US Supreme Court has declined to hear cases challenging court rulings legalising gay marriage in five states.
The result is that the lower court rulings backing same-sex marriage, which opponents had asked the Supreme Court to overturn, will be allowed to stand.
This means that same-sex couples in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana will soon be able to legally marry, within hours or days.
The court’s decision impacts cases in six other states, which is also expected to result in marriage equality becoming a reality in West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.
“Any time same-sex couples are extended marriage equality is something to celebrate, and today is a joyous day for thousands of couples across America who will immediately feel the impact of today’s Supreme Court action,” commented Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.
“But let me be clear, the complex and discriminatory patchwork of marriage laws that was prolonged today by the Supreme Court is unsustainable,” he warned. “The only acceptable solution is nationwide marriage equality and we recommit to ourselves to securing that ultimate victory as soon as possible.”
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 19 US states and could now be extended to 30 states, making it a right in more than half of the nation’s states, representing 60% of the American people.
In light of the news, Griffin called on all federal courts with pending marriage equality cases to address the ongoing legal discrimination faced by committed and loving gay and lesbian couples.
“Thanks to the Supreme Court, there is now sweeping guidance in three federal appellate circuits that declares marriage discrimination flatly unconstitutional. There is no reason under the sun for federal courts not to fast-track all pending marriage cases in light of today’s news,” he said.
“Every argument has been made, every legal dispute has been heard, time and time again—the only thing left is the continued suffering of committed and loving gay and lesbian couples from Mississippi to Montana who are still waiting for justice. They cannot wait anymore, and they shouldn’t have to,” concluded Griffin.