October Was a Monster Month for Marriage Equality in the United States

In preparing to record the November issue of the Lesbian/Gay Law Notes podcast today, I put together a chronology of marriage equality legal developments during October as a reference source, and decided to post it here.  Any additions or corrections are welcome.  I didn’t include every little motion filing, but tried to hit the most significant things.  Of course, the main event was the Supreme Court’s denial of cert in all the pending marriage cases from three circuits on October 6, followed by the 9th Circuit’s ruling in October 7.  Most of the subsequent news involved follow-up in those states in the affected circuits where cases were pending at the trial court – lots of summary judgment motions were decided in October, putting governors and attorney generals to the task of deciding whether to comply, whether to eschew appeals, etc.  There was also some activity in other states where there are no circuit rulings yet.

Here’s my chronology for October 2014:

Oct. 3 – Missouri (8th Cir.) – State Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs (Jackson County) rules state must recognized out of state same-sex marriages, and state says it won’t appeal. Right to marry cases still pending at the end of the month.  [Note – marriage equality ruling from Circuit Court on Nov. 5 – state will appeal]

Oct. 6 – U.S. Supreme Court denies certiorari in marriage equality cases from Utah & Oklahoma (10th Circuit), Virginia (4th Circuit), Wisconsin & Indiana (7th Circuit). All stays lifted in those states, increasing marriage equality states from 19 to 24.  No publicly registered dissents from denials of cert.

Oct. 7 – Colorado Supreme Court (in 10th Circuit) lifts stay of state court’s marriage equality decision at request of Attorney General John Suthers, ruling goes goes into effect, #25.

Oct. 7 – 9th Circuit strikes marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho – stays denied by end of week, including by U.S. Supreme Court, #26 & #27. Coalition to Protect Marriage in Nevada and state of Idaho subsequently filed petitions for en banc review, which are still pending at the end of the month, but the 9th Circuit panel ruling is not stayed.  Judge Stephen Reinhardt for the panel: sexual orientation discrimination applying heightened scrutiny; Concur by Reinhardt on due process grounds; Concur by Marsha Berzon on sex discrimination grounds.

Oct. 7 – Kansas (10th Cir.) – Chief Administrative Judge Robert Fairchild, Douglas County (7th Judicial District), directs district clerk to issue marriage licenses.  A.G. Derek Schmidt rushes to state Supreme Court for an order halting licenses.

Oct. 7 – W. Va. (4th Circuit) — District Judge  Robert Chambers lifts stay of proceedings in pending Lambda Legal case, leading Attorney General and Governor to concede that ban is unconstitutional on Oct. 9 and licenses started issuing on Oct. 10. #28

Oct. 8 – South Carolina (4th Circuit) – District Judge J. Michelle Childs lifts stay on proceedings and sets things in motion for consideration of s.j. motions, which may be decided in November.

Oct. 9 – South Carolina Supreme Court (4th Circuit) – orders a local magistrate to stop issuing licenses while pending federal marriage cases in South Carolina are being decided

Oct. 10 – Kansas Supreme Court halts issuance of licenses temporarily upon application of attorney general, state ex rel. Schmidt v. Moriarity, schedules oral argument for November 6, while indicating likelihood of ruling for respondent clerk, who wants to issue licenses.

Oct. 10 – North Carolina (4th Cir.) – District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., on his own motion grants s.j. to plaintiffs in General Synod of UCC case. Attorney General Roy Cooper, who had previously announced that after the 4th Circuit’s ruling he would not defend state ban, announced statewide effect of Cogburn’s decision, making N.C. #29.

Oct. 10 – 9th Circuit announces that Hawaii’s enactment of a marriage equality law in 2013 had mooted the pending appeal of a 2012 adverse district court decision, and ordered the decision vacated and the appeal dismissed.

Oct. 12 – Alaska (9th Cir.) – Dist. Judge Timothy M. Burgess grants a surprise Sunday s.j. to plaintiffs, temporarily stayed by 9th Circuit while state unsuccessfully sought stay from Supreme Court.

Oct. 14 – N.C. (4th Cir.) – Dist. Judge William L. Osteen, Jr. in marriage equality case grants s.j. to plaintiffs and allows state legislative leaders to intervene if they want to appeal. Legislative leaders would presumably seek en banc review in the 4th Circuit, since any 3-judge panel would be bound by prior ruling.

Oct. 15 – Lambda Legal files new case in South Carolina, moves for s.j. on Oct. 22.

Oct. 16 – Arizona (9th Cir.) – District Judge John W. Sedwick grants s.j. to plaintiffs in two pending marriage cases; Attorney General Tom Horne announces that appeal to 9th Circuit would be futile and so state complies, #30.

Oct. 17 – Supreme Court denies stay in Alaska case, so ruling goes into effect, but state files an appeal, #31.

Oct. 17 – Wyoming – (10th Cir.) — District Court Scott Skavdahl grants s.j. to plaintiffs, stayed until Oct. 23 or until state certifies it won’t appeal.

Oct. 17 – Attorney General Holder announces federal govt will recognize same sex marriages in Utah, Oklahoma, Colorado, Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Nevada.

Oct. 17 – South Dakota – US Dist Judge Karen Schreier heard oral argument on s.j. motion in pending marriage case, stating that a written opinion would be issued “soon,” but it hadn’t appeared by the end of the month.

Oct. 21 – Wyoming certifies it will not appeal and stay is lifted, #32

Oct. 21 – Puerto Rico (1st Circuit) – Dist. Judge Juan M. Perez-Gimenez dismissed marriage equality case, claiming to be bound by Baker v. Nelson, whose continuing viability as precedent had been asserted by 1st Circuit in its 2012 DOMA opinion. Lambda Legal announced appeal to 1st Circuit.

Oct. 22 – Lambda Legal sues Social Security Administration in federal court in D.C. for refusing to recognize legal same-sex marriages in non-equality states for purposes of spousal death and survivor benefits.

Oct. 22 – Mississippi – Oct. 22 – US Dist Judge Carlton W. Reeves heard first arguments in new marriage equality case, scheduling hearing on s.j. motion for Nov. 12.

Oct. 25 – Attorney General Holder announces federal govt will recognize same-sex marriages in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Oct. 27 – 5th Circuit announces combined oral arguments on Texas and Louisiana marriage equality cases will take place during the first week of January 2015.

Oct. 31 – Federal District Judge Daniel Crabtee in Kansas City, Kansas, hears argument on preliminary injunction motion in ACLU’s newly-filed case, Marie v. Moser. (Injunction granted on Nov. 4, stayed until Nov. 11 unless state certifies it will not appeal, but state will appeal.)


(Note – By early November, new right to marry decisions emanated from trial courts in Kansas and Missouri; still waiting on 11th Circuit to schedule argument in Florida case and 1st Circuit to schedule argument in Puerto Rico case.  Still waiting for a district court ruling in the 8th Circuit that can be appealed to that court.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.