Monday, October 6 may be a date that will down in history books. This week, the U.S Supreme Court had the opportunity to pass a nationwide ruling on the legality of same-sex marriage. It didn’t.
Instead, the Court took a shockingly passive stance on the issue. Appeals were brought to the Court by the states of Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin to repeal the decision made by lower appeals courts that the states could not put a ban on same-sex marriages.
The Supreme Court voted to let the lower courts’ decisions stand, making marriages in these states legal.
Just hours after the Court’s decision, same-sex couples were lining the streets to apply for marriage licenses, and many officially tied the knot.
The Court’s decision to favor indecision has been left to speak for itself. Including Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin, there are now 24 states in which same-sex marriages are permitted, with six more expected to join the mix in the near future.
West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming, all of which have tried to place bans on same-sex marriages, fall under the same circuit appeals court. If these states’ bans are lifted, same-sex marriage will be legal in 30 U.S states as well as the District of Columbia.
Tuesday followed with its own headline making stories when the Ninth U.S Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that same-sex couples’ equal protection rights were violated in Idaho and Nevada, lifting bans on same-sex marriage in these states. Alaska, Montana and Arizona—all under the Ninth Court’s jurisdiction—also have laws in place banning same-sex marriage, but many believe that these, too, will fall soon.
It’s hard to deny that history is being made right in front of the eyes of the American people.
When Massachusetts became the first U.S state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, it was a shock to most, and it was a long four years until Connecticut followed suit.
A slow and steady political trickle resulted when Vermont and Iowa following in 2009, New Hampshire in 2010, New York in 2011 and Maine in 2012.
2013 was the year the dam broke. 18 states have legalized same-sex marriage since January 1, 2013, more than twice as many as the previous ten years combined.
None of these states, however, fall within the crucial region of the Bible Belt, and it is here that proponents of marriage equality will most likely face their biggest roadblock.
With decades of tradition and strict values, the South is typically the last region to support or pass new or “radical” laws, and the idea of same-sex marriage is far out of the “Southern comfort zone” of many of its inhabitants, particularly those of older generations.
The truth is, though, that times are changing. It is only a matter of time before marriage equality takes its place among the ranks of great American rights movements.
One day, a child will come home from school and say, “Moms! I have to learn the day same-sex marriage became legal everywhere.”
And that day may be closer than anyone thinks.