Marriage laws overturned in Wyoming, Arizona

by The Editors
Posted 10/17/14, 05:29 pm

UPDATE (5:30 p.m. EDT): Wyoming must comply with a ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allows the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a federal judge announced today. U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl stayed his ruling until next Thursday to give the state time to appeal the decision before it goes into effect. An appeal has little chance of success, however, given that the 10th Circuit has already ruled on the issue and the Supreme Court refused to review that decision.

Prior to the ruling, a Wyoming statute enacted in 1977 defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Kansas remains the only state in the 10th Circuit that has not seen its marriage law overturned by the courts. Two lesbian couples filed suit just last week in Kansas for the right to obtain marriage licenses, and the American Civil Liberties Union has requested that federal judges issue a preliminary injunction in favor of those couples. 

OUR EARLIER REPORT: A federal judge in Arizona struck down that state’s laws protecting traditional marriage, clearing the way for same-sex marriages to begin immediately.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick said today that since the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has already ruled on the issue, he didn’t need to give a long explanation for his decision. But he declared unconstitutional a 1996 state law and a 2008 voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman.

He declined to stay his ruling, as judges did before the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from several states in cases involving the invalidation of their traditional marriage laws.

“It is clear that an appeal to the 9th Circuit would not succeed,” Sedwick said. “It is also clear ... that the high court will turn a deaf ear on any request for relief from the 9th Circuit’s decision.”

Arizona is under the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit, which overturned similar laws in Nevada and Idaho on Oct. 7.