July 16, 2013

Supreme Court same-sex marriage rulings spark state court challenges

Just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decisions on same-sex marriage, LGBT advocates are ramping up legal efforts to expand marriage rights for gays and lesbians at the state level.

  • In five states – Arkansas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas – gay marriage supporters have filed new lawsuits seeking to legalize same-sex marriage where it has been banned. In addition, LGBT-rights advocates have announced that, in the coming weeks, they plan to file similar lawsuits in Alabama, Florida and Virginia.
  • In addition to inspiring new lawsuits, the Supreme Court decisions are having an impact in at least six states – Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Utah – where court challenges to same-sex marriage bans were already underway before the high court rulings. For example, in Illinois and New Jersey, plaintiffs challenging state laws banning same-sex marriage have used the  high court rulings as the rationale for asking courts hearing the cases to quickly strike down these bans.
  • The battlefield is expanding in other ways as well, with gay rights advocates in a number of states, including Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon and Nevada, now pushing for ballot initiatives that would give voters in coming elections an opportunity to legalize same-sex marriage – much as they did in Maine, Maryland and Washington state in 2012.

According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted in the days following the decisions, 45 percent of Americans say they approve of the rulings, while 40 percent disapprove.  Public opinion on gay marriage has shifted rapidly over the past decade; a majority (51 percent) now favor same-sex marriage, compared with just 33 percent in 2003. Much of this change has occurred with the support of the Millennial generation and among people who said they have changed their mind on the issue, including those who have done so because of personal experience in knowing someone who is gay or lesbian. (See our full series of reports on the topic and our first survey of LGBT adults.)

Other polls also show that the momentum, at least for now, is with those who favor same-sex marriage. For instance, in a survey conducted by Pew Research in early May 2013 (less than two months prior to the Supreme Court decisions,) nearly three-quarters of all Americans (72 percent) said that the legal recognition of same-sex marriage is “inevitable.” Along with the clear victories for gay rights advocates in the Supreme Court, this sense of inevitability may be helping to drive the recent, explosive growth of court challenges to same-sex marriage bans at the state level.

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

  1. Photo of David Masci

    is a senior writer/editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. Bernie Henry4 years ago

    Amazingly I sincerely like this and I hope to stumble on some more listings like this. Thanks your cyber share.

  2. Marco Luxe4 years ago

    Data that should be included are the states that have revived the historically discredited doctrine of separate-but-[un]equal by instituting marriage-in-all-but-name. Oregon, Hawaii, New Jersey, Nevada, Illinois, Colorado, and Wisconsin have either domestic partnerships, civil unions or reciprocal beneficiaries. These legal neologisms vary in their level of marriage equality, and result in creating skim-milk marriages. Though politically expedient, this doctrine is legally indefensible, and will soon fail.

    Your data should reflect these states on your map.

  3. John Howard (@eggandsperm)4 years ago

    Congress should enact a Natural Marriage and Reproduction Act that would void all same sex marriages in the US so we don’t have to pay for all these benefits. There is no right to marry someone of the same sex or reproduce with someone of the same sex, and both should be prohibited. Marriage should always approve and allow the couple to reproduce offspring together using their own genes.

    1. Paul4 years ago

      You and your family get your benefits…we get ours..don’t like it? Too bad.

      1. John Howard+(@eggandsperm)4 years ago

        We should fix that system, benefits should be for bona fide marriages only.

    2. Eli Eberhardt4 years ago

      So are you also saying that two straight people who are in their 50s can’t wed either? They are well past the age where they can have children. What about orphans who can’t find homes? Is it better to leave them in the foster care system then to have, God forbid, two adoptive parents of the same sex? How scary! Better leave them in a home with 20 other foster kids where they will be lucky to catch even the most remote attempt at any parental bond in between them foster parents cashing their government checks.

      1. John Howard+(@eggandsperm)4 years ago

        No, there is no age limit, people never lose the right to marry and procreate, even if they lose the ability to procreate. It’s about rights not ability. Siblings have the ability but not the right, thats why they can’t marry. Same-sex couples don’t have the right either, even if they could be given the ability with stem cells they don’t have the right, it would be unethical.

        1. Jeremiah4 years ago

          John, you probably once were against interracial marriage before 1967, if you are not still today.

          Just because something is currently law, does not make it ethically right. It is unethical to ban two consenting adults to share their lives together with all of the legal protection given to others. Any opinion against this is only based on religious views which are not suppose to influence our legal system… Remember the whole separation of church and state? There is a reason for that. It’s to prevent people with Natzi type rational from inflicting harm on others which includes taking away their rights.

          Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.
          -Abraham Lincoln

          John, you do not deserve to have the freedom to marry if you would deny that freedom to someone else.

          Marriage between same sex couples will be legalized in the coming years just as previous bans have been ruled against. It’s just a matter of time. Your opinion will be viewed by your grandchildren as having the opinion in support of slavery in years past. Hopefully nobody thinks poorly upon your family in the future for your contribution towards oppression of our own neighbors, friends and family. They are citizens with rights. It’s time your recognize that.

          1. BCody4 years ago

            Here we go again…when will you foolish people stop equating homosexual behavior with race. The two are incongruent and NOT even remotely comparable!

    3. marbeats4 years ago

      But it is ok for straight people to get those benefits right? Where is your reasoning on that other then your personal hate

      1. BCody4 years ago

        In the words of your ilk…stop judging.