ENID, Okla. —
Millions of couples say these words each year, sealing their marriages.
For most of history, these couples have consisted of one man and one woman.
That is changing.
At present, gay marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, while 31 states have enacted gay marriage bans.
Nine of those states, including Oklahoma, have had their gay marriage bans overturned by the courts, but appeals are in progress.
One of those states, Utah, enacted a state law against same-sex marriage in 1997 and adopted a gay marriage ban into its constitution in 2004. Utah’s ban was overturned in December, a ruling that was upheld by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in June.
This week Utah’s attorney general, Sean Reyes, decided to cut to the chase.
Rather than sending the case back to the appeals court for another review, he decided to submit the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court for consideration.
For the moment, that puts the ball in the Supreme Court’s court, so to speak. The justices can refuse to hear the case, but if they do, it could help decide the question of the constitutionality of gay marriage bans across the nation.
The 10th Circuit’s June ruling in the Utah case also applies to Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming,
Legal experts say the high court generally is reluctant to take on high-profile issues like gay marriage until there is a split among federal appeals courts on a certain topic. But thus far the 10th Circuit is the only one to have ruled on the matter.
We hope the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, rather than having it bounce back and fourth from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, from statehouse to courthouse.
On Thursday, a Colorado judge added further confusion to this issue when he ruled gay couples can continue to marry in Colorado, even though the state’s same-sex marriage ban remains in effect.
It is time for the highest court in the land to weigh in on this hot-button issue, either opening up same-sex marriage nationwide or reaffirming each state’s right to define marriage any way it chooses.