Pending Marriage Equality Cases

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Current as of November 3, 2014

Marriage Equality Scorecard

Pending Marriage Equality Lawsuits

84 lawsuits involving the right of same-sex couples to marry or have their out-of-state marriages respected are pending in 29 states (AL, AK, AZ, AR, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NC, ND, OH, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WV, WY) and Puerto Rico.  (Same-sex couples already are able to marry in some of these states, but some litigation still is pending in those states.)

                55 of these are in federal court;

                                20 of those are on appeal;

35 are in the district court.

                                15 pending federal district court cases and 1 pending federal court of appeals case are within the 4th, 7th or 10th Circuits, in which the U.S. Supreme Court has denied certiorari (review) of rulings that bans on marriage by same-sex couples are unconstitutional.    

                29 are in state courts;

                                15 of these are on appeal, 5 of which are now before state supreme courts; and

                                20 raise federal claims,

4 of which are from states in the 4th, 7th or 10th Circuits.

Marriage equality lawsuits are pending in all states that do not currently allow same-sex couples to marry.

Post-Windsor Cases Ruling in Favor of Marriage Equality Claims

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to refuse to recognize marriages entered by same-sex couples. Since that decision (U.S. v. Windsor), there has been a nearly unbroken string of 32 rulings in 31 cases from 25 different federal courts that have held the laws of 20 states that barred same-sex couples from marrying or having their marriages recognized to be unconstitutional or that have entered partial or full injunctions against them (AK, AZ, CO, FL, ID, IL, IN, KY, MI, NV, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VA, and WI).  Including state courts, the total rises to 46 rulings in 42 cases from 37 different federal and state courts invalidating or enjoining the enforcement of the marriage bans of 24 states (the states in the last parenthetical, plus AR, CO, MO, NJ, and NM). 

Marriage Equality

Marriage equality currently exists in 32 states and DC: Explore our interactive map (click on “Marriage and Relationships”).

In addition, more than 500 same-sex couples married in AR and more than 300 same-sex couples married in MI before stays were issued of rulings that those states’ marriage bans are unconstitutional or orders were issued directing that no further marriage licenses be issued pending appeals of lower court rulings.   The marriages entered in MI are now being recognized for at least federal law purposes, but the federal government has not yet announced whether it will recognize the marriages entered in AR. 

In OH, the District Court’s rulings in two cases requiring recognition of marriages entered outside the state by same-sex couples remain in effect as to the named plaintiffs in both cases.

In other cases in which state marriage laws have been ruled unconstitutional in which appellate rulings have not yet issued, the rulings have been stayed pending appeal (in AR, FL, KY, TN, and TX ) and, in one of the OH cases, the court’s order has been stayed as to all couples except the named plaintiffs.

Marriage Recognition

Although MO does not currently allow same-sex couples to marry, it  has decided to recognize marriages same-sex couples have entered outside the state for all purposes. Whether other states that do not currently allow same-sex couples to marry will recognize marriages entered by same-sex couples out-of-state for all or at least some purposes is not yet fully resolved.

Other Relationship Recognition

As a result of recent rulings, all states that provide comprehensive civil union or domestic partnership also now provide or have appellate court rulings mandating the current ability of same-sex couples to marry throughout the state.  Civil union and domestic partnership ordinances and policies also exist in numerous local jurisdictions.  Explore our interactive map (click on “Marriage and Relationships”).

In The United States Supreme Court

On 10/6/14, the Supreme Court denied the 7 petitions for certiorari seeking review of decisions from the 4th, 7th, and 10th Circuits that struck down the marriage bans that had existed in IN, OK, UT, VA, and WI.  On that same day, the 4th Circuit issued its mandate in Bostic v. Schaefer, making it possible for same-sex couples to marry in Virginia, and the 10th Circuit issued its mandates in Herbert v. Kitchen and Bishop v. Smith, making it possible for same-sex couples to marry in Utah and Oklahoma, respectively.  On 10/7/14, the 7th Circuit issued its mandates in Baskin v. Bogan (which had been consolidated with Fujii v. Dept. of Revenue and Lee v. Pence) and in Walker v. Wolf, making it possible for same-sex couples to marry in Indiana and Wisconsin, respectively.

In The Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals

The 9th Circuit dismissed as moot the appeal in Jackson v. Abercrombie on October 10, 2014, due to Alaska’s legislative adoption of marriage equality.   That case therefore is no longer listed below.  In addition, the 10th Circuit granted the state of Colorado’s motion to dismiss the Evans v. Utah case, which had challenged Utah’s previous refusal to recognize marriages entered after the district court struck down Utah’s marriage ban and before the district court’s ruling was stayed, because Colorado is now recognizing those marriages.  Furthermore, after the Colorado Supreme Court lifted its stay in the Bringman v. Long state marriage equality case, permitting same-sex couples to marry throughout the state, the district court for Colorado on 10/17/14 granted a motion to make permanent the preliminary injunction it previously had issued requiring the state to allow same-sex couples to marry and requiring the recognition of marriages entered by same-sex couples married out of state, and entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs in the Burns v. Hickenlooper case.  Those cases therefore are no longer listed below either.

* Cases filed, or that newly included a marriage claim, since the decision in Windsor are marked with an asterisk.

Learn more about Lambda Legal's national marriage campaign, Love Unites US.