WASHINGTON, D.C. (WRIC) — The Supreme Court is set to hear historic arguments on Tuesday that could make same-sex marriage legal in every state across the nation.
The first state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry was Massachusetts in 2004. Even as recently as October, barely a third of the states permitted it. Now, same-sex couples can marry in 36 states, including the Commonwealth and the District of Columbia — a dramatic change in the law that has been accompanied by an equally fast shift in public opinion.
Here’s an interactive map showing where the states stand on same-sex marriage. Click on the states to see what the law says there:
Virginia has recognized gay marriage since October and the state’s decision could play a role in what SCOTUS decides to do across the board in determining whether the Constitution gives all same-sex couples the right to marry.
Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring released a statement saying he is proud of Virginia when it comes to this issue. He is the first state attorney general to argue successfully at the district level and on appeal that his state’s marriage ban should be struck down as unconstitutional.
“Today’s arguments are profoundly important to our progress as a nation, and in a very personal way, to thousands of Virginia families. Since the Supreme Court allowed marriages to proceed in Virginia, 1,481 couples have married, thousands more have had their out-of-state marriages recognized, 17 children have been adopted, and 16 children have had their second parent added to their birth certificate, providing new security and peace of mind. Our Virginia plaintiffs, their advocates, allies, and legal teams have much to celebrate,” said Herring.
Back in 2013, SCOTUS upheld the right for gay couples to marry, but that ruling did not require states to recognize marriages performed in other states. During Tuesday’s arguments, justices will take that into consideration — whether a couple that legally married in a state like Virginia can have their union recognized in a state that doesn’t perform gay marriages itself.
This is the first time we’ll be hearing public comments from the justices about where they stand on this issue.
The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement about today’s hearing, saying that the answer “should be simple.”
“Government should not be able to deny same-sex couples the rights, protection and dignity that come with the legal solemnization and recognition of marriage. While Virginia and 36 other states currently enjoy the freedom to marry, 29 percent of the U.S. population still lives in states where the freedom to marry is denied,” the statement reads.
Opponents argue it should be up to the states, saying that they have the right to set their own rules for marriage.
“Marriage expresses the reality that men and women bring distinct, irreplaceable gifts to family life, especially for children who deserve both a mom and a dad,” a statement from the Family Foundation of Virginia reads. “Our biggest concern, outside of the devastating effects a decision creating a right to same-sex marriage will have on children, is the fact that such a decision will initiate an open season to discriminate against American citizens who simply believe that kids deserve a mom and a dad.”
Today’s hearing is scheduled to last two and a half hours. A decision is expected in late June.
We’ll keep you updated throughout the day. Stay with 8News for the latest.