News / USA

Further Battles on Same-Sex Marriage Expected in 2014

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announces that the issuing of marriage licenses will continue at the Salt Lake County Clerk's office in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec. 23, 2013.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announces that the issuing of marriage licenses will continue at the Salt Lake County Clerk's office in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec. 23, 2013.
Michael Bowman
Gay people are getting married in one of America’s most socially-conservative states, after a federal judge ruled Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Last week’s decision in Utah capped a string of legal and political victories for gay rights across the nation in 2013, with more battles expected in the year to come.

2013 saw a doubling to 18 of the number of U.S. states where same-sex marriage is legal, as well as a Supreme Court decision requiring the federal government to recognize gay unions. More than one-third of Americans now live in states allowing same-sex marriage, and polls continue to show an ever-growing majority of the public backs the right of gay people to wed.

Last week’s federal ruling in Utah was particularly striking, given that the state is home to the Mormon Church, which strongly disapproves of homosexuality. Seth Anderson and his partner were the first of hundreds of gay couples to marry in recent days.

Anderson says, “We are so happy, and I am so proud to be in Utah right now."

Utah Assistant Attorney General Philip Lott had a different reaction. He said, “The state is disappointed in the ruling.”

Utah’s governor issued a statement decrying that “an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah”. The state will appeal the ruling, and has repeatedly asked federal courts to halt same-sex unions while the legal battle goes forward. So far, those requests have been denied.

In striking down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, the federal judge cited the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year.

New York University Law School professor Ari Waldman says,“The Supreme Court said that the federal government cannot discriminate against legally-married same-sex couples,”  said .

He says, “However, the Supreme Court did not address the issue of whether a state could ban gays from the institution of marriage.”

Gay couples are suing for the right to marry in multiple states that prohibit such unions, while gay rights groups are mobilizing elsewhere to repeal state bans through the legislative process or at the ballot box. Groups opposed to same-sex marriage remain active and vocal, but seem to be losing political clout.

Even though the Supreme Court did not settle the question of same-sex marriage nationwide, its decision striking down one particular form of discrimination against gay people has strengthened legal arguments for ending state bans in places like Utah, according to Waldman.

“There is no doubt that the state bans on same-sex marriage are on thin ice [vulnerable]," said Waldman. "[Supreme Court] Justice [Anthony] Kennedy was pretty clear about the guarantee of equality for gay couples. With each decision, more and more people in this country are living in ‘marriage equality’ states, which means that more and more people are going to live in a world where gay couples are getting married."

For 2014, Waldman expects court decisions on same-sex marriage bans in as many as 10 additional states, plus one or two other states that may legalize gay unions through the democratic process. Ultimately, he expects the issue to return to the Supreme Court, but says the timing of such a decision is hard to predict.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs