The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to decide once and for all whether states can ban gay marriage, a surprise move that will allow gay men and women to marry in five states where same-sex weddings were previously forbidden.
By rejecting appeals in cases involving Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana, the court left intact lower-court rulings that had struck down the bans in those states. But the high court’s action means there will be no imminent national ruling on the issue, with litigation in states where gay marriage is still banned likely to continue.
“Any time same-sex couples are extended marriage equality is something to celebrate, and today is a joyous day for thousands of couples across America who will immediately feel the impact of today’s Supreme Court action,” Chad Griffin, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.
Other states under the jurisdiction of appeals courts that have struck down the bans will also be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision, meaning the number of states with gay marriage is likely to quickly jump from 19 to 30. The other states would be North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado.