WASHINGTON — Friday’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage may not end every couple’s legal struggle to have their marriages recognized.
Some states that had banned gay marriage announced after the ruling that they would comply. But officials in other states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, took a more defiant tone.
In Mississippi, Attorney General Jim Hood (D) said same-sex marriages wouldn’t begin until the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals lifts a stay on a ruling from last year that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban. How long that takes is up to that court’s judges, according to Dennis Hutchinson, a law professor at the University of Chicago.
In Louisiana, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said in a statement he sees nothing in the Supreme Court opinion to indicate it’s effective immediately. “Therefore, there is not yet a legal requirement for officials to issue marriage licenses or perform marriages for same-sex couples in Louisiana,” he said.
The Supreme Court will wait 25 days to allow individuals to file a petition to rehear the case — something it rarely grants — before officially returning the litigation to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Louisiana Clerks of Court Association is advising county clerks not to take action until that 25-day period expires, according to The Advocate.
Hutchinson said that the plaintiffs in the 5th Circuit case would ask the court to lift the stay, but that the court may wait to see what the Supreme Court does in that 25 day period.
In Texas, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia on Friday lifted a stay of a ruling that allowed same-sex marriages in the state, but it’s unclear whether state officials will allow the marriages to proceed.
Despite the delays, the Supreme Court ruling on Friday makes it unequivocally clear that marriage equality is the law of the land.
When state or county officials refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses, couples will have to file lawsuits against them to force them to comply with the Supreme Court, Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, wrote in an email
“Because the law is now clear, courts are likely to issue orders quickly forcing officials to act properly,” Winkler said. “If officials refuse to comply with those orders, they can be held in contempt of court — and jailed.
“The law today is as the Supreme Court has announced it and that’s what every court in the land has to follow.”
This story has been updated with additional comments from Hutchinson.
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