By Liz Massey – Dec. 18, 2014
There’s no doubt about it – capitalizing on the gains from the favorable U.S. Supreme Court rulings in June 2013, backers of marriage equality had a banner year in 2014.
Here’s a timeline on the progress of marriage equality, by state, throughout this historic year.
States that gained marriage equality in 2014:
Feb. 21 – Illinois
A federal court ordered the Cook County clerk’s office to provide marriage licenses immediately to same-sex couples, rather than require them to wait until June 1, the default implementation date for the marriage equality bill passed by the Illinois legislature in late 2013.
May 19 – Oregon
Marriage equality arrived in Oregon when a U.S. federal district court judge ruled that its 2004 state constitutional amendment banning such marriages discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
May 20 – Pennsylvania
This state gained marriage equality after a U.S. federal district court judge ruled that the Commonwealth’s 1996 statutory ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review two federal legal cases in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit had ruled that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry in Utah and Oklahoma is unconstitutional. The ruling created a binding precedent throughout the circuit, including Colorado, and resulted in the lifting of a stay of a July 23 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore, who struck down Colorado’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in Burns v. Hickenlooper.
The U. S. Supreme Court denied a review of the 10th Circuit’s ruling in favor of the freedom to marry in Bishop v. Smith, allowing same-sex couples to begin marrying in Oklahoma.
On Oct. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling in favor of the freedom to marry in the case of Kitchen v. Hebert. This lifted a stay on a previous favorable ruling on Dec. 20, 2013, by U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby that had been in place since Jan. 6.
Same-sex marriage in Virginia became legal on Oct. 6, following a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to refuse to hear an appeal of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Bostic v. Schaefer.
Wisconsin gained marriage equality when the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of the 7th Circuit’s ruling in favor of the freedom to marry in the case of Wolf v. Walker.
Oct. 7 – Indiana
Same-sex marriage in Indiana has been legal since Oct. 7. A lawsuit challenging the state’s refusal to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Baskin v. Bogan, won a favorable ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on June 25. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider an appeal in Baskin v. Bogan on Oct. 6, allowing marriages to go forward in the state.
Same-sex marriage in Nevada has been legal since Oct. 9, when a federal district court judge issued an injunction against Nevada’s enforcement of its ban on same-sex marriage, acting on order from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced he was ordering state agencies to act in compliance with the controlling precedent set by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Virginia case Bostic v. Schaefer, even though West Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage had not been explicitly declared unconstitutional.
Oct. 10 – North Carolina
North Carolina gained marriage equality on Oct, 10, when a U.S. District Court judge ruled in General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper that the state’s denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional.
Oct. 12 – Alaska
Same-sex marriage became legal in Alaska as a result of a favorable ruling from a U.S. District Judge in the case Hamby v. Parnell.
Oct. 15 – Idaho
In May, the U. S. District Court, ruling in the case of Latta v. Otter, found Idaho’s bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling on Oct. 7, but the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of the ruling, which was not lifted until Oct. 15.
Oct. 17 – Arizona
Arizona gained marriage equality Oct. 17, when two lawsuits in federal court (Majors v. Horne and Connolly v. Jeanes) that challenged the state’s antimarriage law and constitutional amendment ended with a decision by U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick that the bans were unconstitutional. The state did not appeal the ruling.
Oct. 21 – Wyoming
Marriage equality became a reality in Wyoming after a federal court found the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Oct. 17. The ruling took effect Oct. 21 when state officials notified the court that they would not appeal the decision.
Nov. 4 – Kansas
U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree, ruling in the case of Marie v. Moser, issued a preliminary injunction barring the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Douglas County and Sedgwick County from enforcing Kansas’s same-sex marriage ban. He stayed the injunction until Nov. 11 to give state authorities time to appeal. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied state officials’ request for a stay pending appeal Nov. 7 and the U.S. Supreme Court denied the state officials’ request for a stay Nov. 12, pending the appeal of Marie.
As the injunction in Marie was set to take effect, the Kansas attorney general contended that Crabtree’s preliminary injunction only applied to the two counties involved in the lawsuit – not statewide – and some counties continued to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Most recently, the 10th Circuit refused a request by Kansas state officials for an en banc hearing on the case on Dec. 2.
Nov. 19 – Montana
A U.S. District Court Judge ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in the case of Rolando v. Fox. There was no stay in this case.
Nov. 20 – South Carolina
Same-sex marriage became legal in South Carolina since a federal court order took effect on Nov. 20. Following the ruling of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Bostic v. Schaefer, which found Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, two judges began accepting marriage license applications from same-sex couples until the South Carolina Supreme Court, in response to a request by the state Attorney General, Alan Wilson, ordered them to stop. A federal court ruled South Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Nov. 12, with implementation of that decision stayed until Nov. 20.
The pioneers …
A number of states attained marriage equality before 2014.
1. Massachusetts – 2004, court ruling
2. Connecticut – 2008, court ruling
3. Iowa – 2009, court ruling
4. Vermont – 2009, legislative action
5. New Hampshire – 2010, legislative action
6. District of Columbia – 2010, legislative action
7. New York – 2011, legislative action
8. Maine – 2012, ballot initiative
9. Maryland – 2012, ballot initiative
10. Washington – 2012, ballot initiative
11. Delaware – 2013, legislative action
12. Minnesota – 2013, legislative action
13. California – 2013, court ruling
14. New Jersey – 2013, court ruling
15. Rhode Island – 2013, legislative action
16. Hawaii – 2013, legislative action
17. New Mexico – 2013, court ruling