A wave of same-sex couples strolled down the aisle Tuesday, the day after the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to take any cases on gay marriage, an action that in effect made gay marriage legal in states with two-thirds of the nation’s people.
Gay couples in Utah exchanged kisses and cried at news conferences as they applied for marriage licenses.
A handful of same-sex weddings took place in Salt Lake County. A federal court in Utah was the first to back gay marriage, and that case became the test case in the federal circuit court.
Yolanda Pascua and her partner, Laekin Rogers, had planned to fly next week to get married in Portland, Ore., where same-sex marriages are already legal.
Monday’s news canceled those plans. Instead, the couple got married that day in Utah, where they’d always wanted their ceremony to take place.
“We woke up to the great news and decided there was no reason to wait,” said Pascua, 34. “We were going to go casual, but we figured this is our wedding day. So we both wore dresses.”
The high court action let stand appellate court rulings overturning state bans in five states and made it easy for activists in six others to move quickly to get gay marriage approved.
At the start of Monday, 19 states and the District of District had legalized gay marriage. After the Supreme Court decided not to act on suits from three appellate circuits, gay marriage became legal immediately in five more states, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Six more states in those districts will also get same-sex marriage: Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“It’s an historic day for same-sex couples,” said Clifford Rosky, a Utah constitutional law professor who has been active in the battle for same-sex rights. “The Supreme Court has sent a strong signal that it has no objection to same-sex couples marrying in so many states at once.”
In Colorado on Tuesday, the state Supreme Court lifted injunctions against three county clerks, allowing them to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Douglas County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Tuesday, following similar action in Pueblo and Larimer counties, which began issuing licenses Monday.
Stacey Nowlin and Leona Rogers were apparently the first same-sex couple to receive a license in Colorado and were married at the Pueblo office around noon.
Less than an hour after the injunctions were lifted, Colorado Atty. Gen. John Suthers gave all 64 county clerks the order to begin issuing marriage licenses.
“This is a wonderful day for Colorado and especially for couples and their families who have been denied this fundamental right for far too long,” Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall said in a statement.