states where gay marriage bans have been overturned, but where appeals are in progress
In 2013 and 2014, following the US Supreme Court's United States v. Windsor decision, gay marriage bans were overturned by court rulings in several states, but those rulings were put on hold pending appeals to the US Supreme Court. On Oct. 6, 2014, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from five of those states, and the decision immediately cleared the way for legal gay marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Six other states, Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming, were also potentially affected by the Supreme Court ruling because they were in the jurisdictions of the lower courts that had overturned the gay marriage bans.
ARKANSAS – On May 9, 2014, Arkansas' gay marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza. Arkansas had previously banned gay marriage by both state law and voter-approved constitutional amendment. Some Arkansas counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on May 10, 2014, while other counties refused to issue licenses. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel requested that the State Supreme Court put a stay on Judge Piazza's ruling, but the request was denied on May 14, 2014. The Supreme Court effectively halted gay marriages from taking place, however, by noting that while Judge Piazza's ruling had struck down both the constitutional amendment and the state law, it had not affected an additional state law prohibiting county clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. 456 licenses had been issued in total. On May 15, 2014, Judge Piazza expanded his ruling to strike down the additional law and any other measures that made gay marriage illegal, but on May 16, 2014 the State Supreme Court suspended that ruling, halting all gay marriages within the state. On Nov. 25, 2014, US District Judge Kristine Baker ruled the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but stayed her own ruling, pending expected appeals.
FLORIDA – On July 17, 2014, Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia struck down Florida's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, stating that "it is our country's proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and the rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority." The ruling applies only to Monroe County (location of the Florida Keys), and although Judge Garcia initially said marriage licenses could be issued beginning on July 22, 2014, an automatic stay was put on the decision when Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed notice that the state would appeal. On July 21, 2014, Judge Garcia denied a request by the plaintiffs that he lift the stay and allow the marriages to go ahead. On July 25, Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel ruled that the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, stating that "It serves only to hurt, to discriminate, to deprive same-sex couples and their families of equal dignity, to label and treat them as second-class citizens, and to deem them unworthy of participation in one of the fundamental institutions of our society." Judge Zabel stayed her decision pending appeal. On Aug. 4, 2014, a third judge, Broward County Circuit Judge Dale C. Cohen, ruled Florida's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional because it "discriminates based on sexual orientation, which violates the equal protection clause." Judge Cohen stayed his ruling pending appeal. On Aug. 5, 2014, Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Diana Lewis became the fourth Florida judge to strike down the ban, but her ruling only applied to the specific circumstances of the case and did not include an order to begin issuing marriage licenses. On Aug. 21, 2014, US District Judge Robert L. Hinkle ruled that the same-sex marriage ban violates the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, stating: "When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage [will] seem an obvious pretext for discrimination." Judge Hinkle stayed his order, pending appeal.
KENTUCKY – On July 1, 2014, US District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that Kentucky's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage violates the equal protection clause in the US Constitution. Judge Heyburn stated that the ban serves "no conceivable legitimate purpose," but stayed his own decision, pending the state's appeal. On Nov. 6, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Heyburn's ruling 2-1, thus upholding the state's gay marriage ban. An appeal to either the full bench of the court or directly to the US Supreme Court is expected.
MICHIGAN – On Mar. 21, 2014, a federal judge ruled Michigan's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. US District Judge Bernard Friedman wrote that "Today's decision... affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail." Around 300 same-sex couples received marriage licenses before the US 6th Court of Appeals issued a stay on the decision on Mar. 22, 2014, making same-sex marriage illegal again in Michigan, pending the appeal process. On Mar. 28, 2014, US Attorney General Eric Holder stated that the marriages performed prior to the stay being issued would be recognized by the federal government: "These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages." On Nov. 6, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Friedman's ruling 2-1, thus upholding the state's gay marriage ban. An appeal to either the full bench of the court or directly to the US Supreme Court is expected.
MISSISSIPPI – On Nov. 25, 2014, US District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but stayed his own ruling, pending expected appeals.
MISSOURI – On Nov. 5, 2014, St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison ruled that the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. The ruling only applies to St. Louis, where same-sex couples began applying for marriage licenses shortly after the decision. On Nov. 7, 2014, US District Judge Ortrie D. Smith also ruled that the state's ban is unconstitutional, but stayed his own ruling. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced that he will appeal the ruling to the Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals.
TEXAS – On Feb. 26, 2014, a federal judge ruled Texas' gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Judge Orlando Garcia wrote "Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuges in our U.S. Constitution." He then stayed his own decision pending appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, leaving same-sex marriage illegal in Texas.
Timeline of Same-Sex Marriage Bans and Legalizations by Effective Date of Laws
Andrew M. Francis, Hugo M. Mialon, and Handoe Peng, "In Sickness and in Health: Same Sex Marriage Laws and Sexually Transmitted Infections, Appendix: Legal References and Notes," Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No 11-97, www.emory.edu (accessed Aug. 10, 2012)
Human Rights Campaign, "Marriage Center," www.hrc.org (accessed Aug. 10, 2012)
Lawrence Hurley, "Supreme Court Allows Gay Marriage to Proceed in South Carolina," reuters.com, Nov. 20, 2014