Many of us were surprised when the Supreme Court on October 6 declined to accept any of the seven pending petitions seeking further review of federal appeals court decisions that had struck down laws denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry in Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, Wisconsin and Virginia. By rejecting those petitions, the decisions became final and same-sex couples in those states are now marrying. Quickly, several states that fall geographically within the same three federal appellate districts (Colorado, North Carolina and West Virginia) followed suit and struck their existing marriage bans, and a federal district judge soon compelled Wyoming to do likewise. The two remaining states in those districts — Kansas and South Carolina — are resisting complying with the federal mandate, and court cases, including one filed by Lambda Legal in South Carolina, are proceeding to secure compliance.
Today, in a 5 to 4 decision, a majority of the United States Supreme Court held that family-owned businesses can refuse, based on their owners’ religious beliefs that their employees might not share, to pay for insurance coverage for contraception despite the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled 5-4 that some for-profit companies can assert religious rights to block their employees’ access to group health plan coverage for FDA-approved contraception as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).