As predicted yesterday following the Supreme Court's decision not to hear any of the same-sex marriage challenges before them, two more states have seen their same-sex marriage bans fall at the hands of federal appeals court judges: Idaho and Nevada. The decision came late Tuesday afternoon from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, from a unanimous three-judge panel, as the AP reports.
Idaho and Nevada were not among the five states whose same-sex marriage bans immediately fell on Monday, after the Supreme Court tacitly chose to deny review to cases in which federal appeals courts had struck down the bans as unconstitutional. Those states were Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Idaho and Nevada were also not among the other six states governed by the same three appeals courts affected by yesterday's decision, which are Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. This means that the immediate impact of yesterday's decision is likely to bring gay marriage to 13 new states in the coming days or weeks, up from 11. This brings the total number of states where gay marriage is now/will soon be legal to 32 plus the District of Columbia. (The New York Times is putting the number at 35, which seems include Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, all overseen by the Sixth Circuit, which is expected to rule soon on bans in those four states.*)
Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in his decision, covering two separate cases pertaining to the two states, "We hold that the Idaho and Nevada laws at issue violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they deny lesbians and gays who wish to marry persons of the same sex a right they afford to individuals who wish to marry persons of the opposite sex." He also wrote that a separate ruling regarding a marriage-law challenge in Hawaii, where same sex marriage is currently legal, is forthcoming.
* This post has been updated to reflect an updated total in the New York Times post of the number of states where same-sex marriage will soon likely be legal.