Let’s start with Montana, where a district-court judge ordered the state to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples this week. Montana is the last state in the Ninth Circuit to get marriage equality. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox will appeal the ruling, but he’s not seeking a stay, probably because he knows there’s no point, since the Ninth Circuit will definitely uphold this decision, and the Supreme Court won’t review it. Marriage equality is here to stay in Montana.
And South Carolina has also started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That’s the last state in the Fourth Circuit to get marriage equality. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson had asked the Supreme Court to block it pending an appeal, but they declined. Wilson’s appeal will still go to the Fourth Circuit, but they’ve already overturned marriage bans in neighboring states, so, just like in Montana, marriage equality is there to stay.
Now on to Kansas. This is a tricky one. A district-court judge struck down the state’s ban, and the stay on the ruling expired at the end of last week. Some counties have started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but others haven’t. And state agencies are refusing to honor the licenses that have been issued, since Gov. Sam Brownback is appealing the decision. Kansas is in the Tenth Circuit, where every other court has overturned marriage bans, so they have virtually no chance of stopping marriage equality. Gov. Brownback will lose his appeal; it’s just hard to say when.
A lawsuit in South Dakota is moving ahead. A federal judge there rejected the state’s claim that the 1972 case Baker v. Nelson prevents a federal ruling on marriage. Just a few weeks ago the Sixth Circuit cited Baker as justification for upholding a marriage ban, so it’s a promising sign that the South Dakota judge rejected that argument.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed appeals in multiple cases to try to stop marriage equality in her state. Her chances of prevailing are not great. But for now, marriage equality is still on hold in Florida. In Louisiana gay and lesbian couples have asked to skip the Fifth Circuit and go right to the Supreme Court for a ruling. And over in Alabama the state has cited the work of Mark Regnerus in its latest brief. Regnerus is the author of a discredited study on parenting by gays and lesbians, which a federal judge in Michigan called “entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration.” So good luck with that, Alabama.
And, finally, the National Organization for Marriage is not doing well. New tax filings show that donations dropped over 50 percent in 2013, with the group ending the year $2.5 million in debt. NOM has faced large fines over the last year due to campaign finance violations, and donations have dropped sharply since the organization really hasn’t had a major victory in several years.