SCOTUS Rejection Of Gay Marriage Cases Will Create Legal Domino Effect

Oct 6, 2014
Originally published on October 6, 2014 6:30 pm
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The Supreme Court has declined to hear appeals in five same-sex marriage cases. That surprise move today means that gay and lesbian couples can now legally marry in Utah, Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin. The decision also sets in place a legal domino effect that will sanction same-sex marriage in 30 states in all. NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports on reaction from across the country.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: The decision had near immediate impact as county clerks in the five states started performing weddings.




UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: ...Choose you, Lianne...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: ...Choose you, Lianne...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: ...To be my lawful partner.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: ...To be my lawful partner.

LUDDEN: That from a video of a tearful couple in Indianapolis posted on the Courier-Journal. Rob MacPherson was one of the plaintiffs in the Indiana suit the Supreme Court rejected. He told reporters he and his husband have been together 27 years.


ROB MACPHERSON: We've been married a couple times now. We were legal in 2008 in California, then we weren't here. We were legal for two-and-a-half days in June, and now we're legal-legal and no one can take that away. So that's awesome, and it feels great.

LUDDEN: Utah's governor expressed disappointment over today's ruling, as did other state officials hoping to uphold bans on same-sex marriages. But Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes says it's important to finally have clarity on this deeply personal issue.

SEAN REYES: It's time for people of goodwill on both sides of the issue to come together now and heal any rifts that had occurred.

LUDDEN: The Supreme Court's decision means six other states will now be bound by appellate rulings legalizing same-sex marriage. They are West Virginia, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, South Carolina and North Carolina. That's where Ellen Gerber had a one-word reaction.


LUDDEN: Gerber has her own case that's been on hold, asking North Carolina to recognize her out-of-state marriage to Pearl Berlin, her partner of 48 years. Now since the high court decided not to hear a case, Gerber says hers should move faster.

GERBER: And the sooner, the better. Pearl's 90th birthday is January 6, and I want us to have a party and be legally recognized as married in North Carolina at that time.

LUDDEN: But not everyone thinks today's move is the last word on this issue for the Supreme Court justices.

PHIL BURESS: Denying cert does not mean that they agree with the decisions.

LUDDEN: Phil Buress heads Citizens for Community Values in Cincinnati, Ohio. The sixth circuit court of appeals there is weighing a handful of cases, and many believe it will be the first to uphold bans on same-sex marriage.

BURESS: These are all different cases all across the country, and it's proper for the Supreme Court to wait until all these cases get before them. I do believe that the Supreme Court will probably take this up in the next session.

LUDDEN: The question then would be whether the court is willing to take back a right that's set to take hold across a solid majority of country. Jennifer Ludden, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.