Marriage equality supporters have asked
federal judges in five states to order officials to begin issuing
marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
The states – South Carolina, Wyoming,
Arizona, Kansas and Montana – are under the jurisdiction of federal
appeals courts which have struck down similar state bans limiting
marriage to heterosexual couples.
Last week, the Supreme Court refused to
hear appeals in cases challenging bans in five states. A request
from Idaho was denied separately. The latest state looking to the
high court to keep its ban is Alaska.
court temporarily blocks ruling striking down Alaska's gay marriage
Citing a Ninth Circuit Court ruling,
the ACLU of Montana on Wednesday asked a federal judge to strike down
Montana's restrictive marriage ban.
ACLU Of Montana Legal Director Jim
Taylor said in a statement that he was “optimistic that the
decisions of the Ninth Circuit in those cases will convince the
District Court to rule in our favor.”
Lambda Legal cited similar arguments in
asking a federal judge to “issue an immediate ruling striking down
Arizona's discriminatory marriage ban.”
“The indelible writing is on the
wall,” Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Jennifer C. Pizer said in a
statement, “both with the 9th Circuit ruling and last
week's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to review circuit court
rulings out of the 4th, 7th and 10th
Circuits striking down similar bans in five states nationwide.”
Lambda Legal is also hoping for a
favorable judgment in South Carolina, which is under the jurisdiction
of the Fourth Circuit Court. A 3-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit
struck down Virginia's ban as invalid.
“The Fourth Circuit's decision means
that same-sex couples in South Carolina should be shopping for a
caterer, not a lawyer,” Beth Littrell, senior attorney in Lambda
Legal's southern regional office based in Atlanta said in a
statement. “The state doesn't have any credible arguments for a
court in South Carolina to entertain.”
At a hearing on Thursday, the National
Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) asked U.S. District Judge Scott W.
Skavdahl to force Wyoming officials to comply with decisions of the
Tenth Circuit striking down bans in Utah and Oklahoma. NCLR is
representing four gay couples to wish to marry in the state.
The Tenth Circuit's rulings also affect
Kansas. The ACLU has asked a federal judge in Kansas City to rule in
favor of its plaintiff couples.
UPDATE: Judge Skavdahl said he will
issue a ruling before Monday at 5 P.M.