Supporters of gay marriage won another victory this week as the Supreme Court let stand lower court rulings that struck same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The decision upholds a decision from the Seventh Circuit, which intensely scrutinized Indiana and Wisconsin representatives who argued in favor of maintaining those states’ gay marriage bans, as well as rulings from the Fourth and Tenth Circuits that struck gay marriage bans in Virginia, Oklahoma and Utah.
The Supreme Court’s decision not to review the lower courts’ rulings increased the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 24. Moreover, because Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming – states that currently ban gay marriage – are located in the circuits that recently invalidated state gay marriage laws, many predict that this 24 could soon rise to 30.
In recent remarks, Justice Ginsburg stated that that the Supreme Court felt no urgency to act on the issue of state-banned gay marriage because there was no circuit split on the matter. As such, the Court may still hear the issue in the future. But for the time being, two-thirds of same-sex couples in the United States do or soon will live in states where they can marry, according to the UCLA School of Law.
Employers should pay special attention to their employees’ rights and consult their attorneys to ensure that they are providing appropriate benefits and complying with the rights of employees and their spouses as defined by the quickly-changing law.