Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: What It Means & What Happens Next

Aug 21, 2014

Some Virginians planned to attend weddings today, but the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in – issuing a stay of the lower court order that would have allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry. 

Clerks of Court like Charlottesville’s Llizelle Dugger were standing by to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, but late Wednesday the Supreme Court issued a stay of the lower court ruling allowing them to wed. Dugger says it’s not clear when the high court will hear arguments:

“There’s speculation that they can take it up as early as the next term. More likely it will be in the spring terms, so it’s anybody’s guess at that point.”

Governor Terry McAuliffe called the court’s decision a temporary delay to the inevitable conclusion that Virginians who love each other should have the opportunity to marry regardless of their sexual orientation, and Attorney General Mark Herring said he had asked the justices for a speedy decision. Herring requested the stay, because he feared problems if couples were allowed to marry and the Supreme Court later ruled against them.

“For example, if a same sex couple were to marry and then adopt a child and the Supreme Court were to later rule against marriage equality, then it could call into the question the validity of the adoption. Another example would be for death benefits and questions about inheritances, and so to avoid that kind of confusion that might occur, I reluctantly agreed that a stay was appropriate.”

Two other states, Utah and Oklahoma, also have cases involving same sex marriage. The Supreme Court could hear one, two or all three of them.