The issue of same-sex marriage has been raging on ever since the first application for a marriage license was denied by a clerk in Hennepin County, Minnesota because the applicants were both male. However, this week the Supreme Court chose to take a neutral attitude towards the issue of gay marriage, allowing the rulings of lower courts to stand.
The states immediately affected by this decision are Indiana, Wisconsin, Virginia, Utah, and Oklahoma, which had appealed the lifting of the state bans on same-sex marriages by federal appeal courts. Six other states that are awaiting the ruling of the federal appeals court for the same issue may very well get the same treatment from the Supreme Court.
As of the time of this decision, there are 19 states plus the District of Columbia in which same-sex marriage is legalized. This decision could jumpstart the movement to make same-sex marriages recognized in other states, bringing the total number of states that recognize gay marriage to 30. Nine other states, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Alaska, Arizona, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio, are also in line for denials by federal appeals court, which means that there could soon be 39 states in which same-sex marriage is legal or in which the state ban lifted.
This decision is considered a victory for the gay rights movement, but some advocates criticize the Supreme Court for staying on the sidelines when a definitive ruling would have made the process of nationalizing the legality of same-sex marriages much faster.