Gay marriage fights move to South Carolina, Wyoming, Arizona, Montana, Kansas

Thu. October 16, 2014 12:16 PM by Carlos Santoscoy

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.

(Related: Appeals court temporarily blocks ruling striking down Alaska's gay marriage ban.)

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.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine