The barriers to marriage equality in the United States have been collapsing with astonishing speed. State Courts and District Courts have struck down state bans on same-sex marriage in 10 states since January 2014. The last four occurred in the last three weeks alone.

A total of 18 states have struck down or otherwise challenged bans on same-sex marriage since the Windsor v. United States decision made the federal government recognize same-sex marriage. Many of these lower court decisions have been stayed (put on hold) pending appeals to higher courts.

This is setting up what will probably be a final showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court. This time, it's going to be winner-take-all. Why? The Court will almost certainly have to rule as to whether or not a state has any legitimate purpose in banning same-sex marriage.

The standard arguments used to justify the bans-- "tradition" and "history" and "health"-- didn't hold up in the lower courts and didn't save DOMA. Will these things impress the Roberts Supreme Court or will marriage equality finally triumph over religiously-motivated bigotry?

My early forecast: BIG win for freedom and equality.

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States that have challenged or ended bans on same-sex marriage...

Since Windsor v. U.S. ended DOMA:

DELAWARE, RHODE ISLAND, MINNESOTA, NEW JERSEY, HAWAII, ILLINOIS, NEW MEXICO, UTAH

Since January 2014:

OKLAHOMA (January 14) U.S. District Court Ruling
KENTUCKY (February 12) U.S. District Court Ruling
VIRGINIA (February 13) U.S. District Court Ruling
TEXAS (February 26) Federal Judge Orlando Garcia ruling
MICHIGAN (March) U.S. District Court Ruling
OHIO (April 14) U.S. District Court Ruling
ARKANSAS (May 9) Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza (stayed by Arkansas Supreme Court)
IDAHO (May 9) U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Wagahoff ruling
OREGON (This week) U.S. District Court ruling
PENNSYLVANIA (This week) U.S. District Court ruling

(Source)

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Update: There is now just ONE state-- North Dakota-- out of the 31 states with bans on same-sex marriage that is not facing a legal challenge that is (or will likely end up) in federal court. (Source)

Update (May 25, 2014): The ban on same-sex marriage in North Dakota is being challenged! It'll take four to six weeks for the suit to be filed. (Source)

By July it'll be unanimous. Every US state that has outlawed marriage equality will have been hauled into court to explain the legitimate purpose for doing so. Having none, the bans are overturned, stayed, and go before a US Court of Appeals. One of these cases from 31 states is bound to end up in front of the Supreme Court sooner or later.

Tags: DOMA, equality, gay, marriage, rights, same-sex

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The tides are turning and it is awesome!

It really is amazing how quickly things have changed.

I hope you are right.  I don't even understand why this is an issue.  Of course I know the god-botherers think same-sex marriages are an abomination, but my thought to them is, "Well, don't do it then."  They should not get to say that nobody can do it.  I think the courts are moving in the direction they must.  This should not even be an issue, if you ask me.

It bothers very much members of the American theocracy when someone tells them they can no longer openly discriminate against those who choose to live their life independent of religion, especially mainstream Xtian values. It surprised the hell out of me when Arkansas finally got it's head out of it's ass. Even with a Republican controlled House & Senate.

My suspicion is that LGBT issues have always just been a cheep 'moral' victory for religious institutions. Queer folk -- especially those that stray from gender norms -- are an easy outgroup to target, because they are guaranteed to be a minority in present times, and they are more likely to be isolated than many other groups.

The world is overflowing with heteropropaganda* from the straight agenda* which reenforces a sense of not only normalcy, but propriety in orthodox, heterosexual relationships. Over 90% of your average congregation likely has no interest in homosexual acts (beyond the odd stray curious fantasy or watching a bit of lesbian porn). Those 90+% can all pat themselves on the back for resisting the temptation to do improper things which they were never really tempted to do in the first place. If they want to go the extra step, they can waggle their fingers and pray for the deviant souls who strayed from the path. Of the remaining minority, some will be alienated and lost to the flock, but a number will closet themselves and remain amongst the faithful.

With an issue like same-sex marriage, I think it's the same dynamic playing out. Social and religious conservatives can rally the troops against (what they thought to be) an easy mark and feel like they're doing something righteous, when in reality it's just school-yard bullying for adults. Once the troops are rallied, you have their ears and their hearts, so you can make sure your gang stays under your thumb.

*tongue in cheek

Queer folk -- especially those that stray from gender norms -- are an easy outgroup to target, because they are guaranteed to be a minority in present times, and they are more likely to be isolated than many other groups.

Part of what I appreciate about what's happened: Americans not only changed their minds about same-sex marriage, but they did it so quickly and that LGBT social and legal activism deserves most of the credit. LGBT folk are more difficult targets.

It took 20 years to make same-sex marriage a majority-supported issue. Hopefully it'll take less time for bans on same-sex marriage to become vulgar anachronisms, like the bans on interracial marriage which existed in the US until 1967.

related to the op:

http://verdict.justia.com/2013/08/12/the-imminent-demise-of-section...

The heart of the district court’s reasoning lies in its analysis of the first factor. The court cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor holding that DOMA Section 3 “was unconstitutional because it violated equal protection and due process principles guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.” The district court also looked to an earlier Supreme Court decision, Romer v. Evans, where the Court struck down a Colorado law effectively classifying that state’s citizens on the basis of sexual orientation with no legitimate governmental purpose.

Applying the reasoning of these two cases, Judge Black found that Ohio’s laws that purport to recognize all out-of-state marriages (including those between first cousins and those between minors, neither of which Ohio authorizes) except for same-sex marriages violate the Constitution’s equal protection mandate.

Perhaps this specific case isn't going to dismantle DoMA section 2, but I'm sure such a case is somewhere on the horizon. I think it will be the final nail in the coffin for the whole issue. Some states will still twitch and fuss a bit, but by that point it will just be gas escaping a bloated corpse, not signs of lingering life.

I'm glad that the LGBT community is excited. However, I urge the excited to care less about what government and religion care about your lives. Religion and government are merely temporary popular traditions.

That's disturbingly naïve. I am glad you can have such a sheltered view on sexual identity and orientation-based discrimination; it makes it seem like you haven't had too much to worry about in that regard in your own personal experience.
As a result of the overturning of DOMA I am part way through my application to reside in the USA on a permanent basis, so that I can live with my wife. I don't think Andy has really grasped the concept of that freedom. I think his comment was 'off the cuff' and has no defensibility.

It's good to see you posting again, Strega.

Why thank you, young man :)

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