On Monday, the Supreme Court brought the most sweeping decision regarding same-sex marriage yet, by simply allowing a number of lower court rulings to stand.
These lower-court rulings will legalize same-sex marriage in 11 more states, including Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, North and South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas, and Wyoming. Some of these are as a result of Federal Appeals Court decisions, while the others are due to appellate court decisions regarding the banning of such marriages. This Duke Chronicle article by Jared Haftel written a few years ago nailed it. This was always a very real possibility.
Many other appeals courts are now deciding on the matter in a number of other states, and the amount of states that allow same-sex marriage could easily rise up to well pass 30. While the Supreme Court might get involved in future cases, the circumstances of its latest decisions make that unlikely.
The recent change in court behavior is likely due to a change in not only the political landscape of the United States, but also the cultural landscape. As a result, states which used to have the power to rule and govern on such powers increasingly no longer have the ability.
Among those celebrating is Carol Schall, who acted as one of the plaintiffs in the Virginia case when she was barred from marrying her partner, Mary Townley: “My office mates heard a gasp from my office…only to see me in a puddle of tears”. No doubt that thousands more are feeling the exact same way.