Judges allow same-sex marriage in five US states

Gays and lesbians in Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana can now legally marry, with North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado also likely to follow suit

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The Independent US

The already headlong leap in the United States towards legalised gay marriage received another giant boost on Monday when the Supreme Court decided not to consider a series of appeals arising from lower-court rulings that had sought to overturn same-sex marriage bans in five states.

The decision by the court not to take up the issue of state-level bans on same-sex marriage ensured that gays and lesbians in those states – Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana – could commence tying the knot almost without delay.

The impact may be wider because several other states currently with bans fall under the jurisdiction of the same appeals courts that supported striking down those bans. Thus gay marriage might shortly become legal in North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado.

By effectively deciding to do nothing for the time being, the Supreme Court has ensured the number of states allowing gay marriage will jump from 19 to 30 – well over more than half the states in the land.

“Any time same-sex couples are extended marriage equality is something to celebrate. Today is a joyous day for thousands of couples across America,” Chad Griffin, president of gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, noted.

It has only been 10 years since Massachusetts became the first and only state in the US to allow gay marriage, a move that prompted many states, especially those with Republican majorities, to seek explicitly to ban them. In the biggest victory for gay rights activists, the US Supreme Court last year struck down a federal law, the Defence of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

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As polls have seen a dramatic shift in public opinion in the US towards same-sex unions, the courts have increasingly shown a willingness to reject state-level bans.

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