» Big Surprises Come in Unexpected Moments: Marriage Equality Expands in a Heartbeat

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

Experts’s Note (10-20-2014): Since this post, marriage equality has continued to make its away across the U.S. As of October 19, thirty-two (32) states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage. The most recent additions include: Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, & Wyoming. It’s predicted that South Carolina, Montana and Kansas will follow in short-order. For the most current updates, please visit GayWeddings.com’s same-sex marriage map.

You know, what’s really amazing about being a gay wedding expert and having a decent sense of what to expect is that even I am often surprised. That includes the morning in June of 2013 when the Supreme Court had handed down its decision to overturn DOMA, opening the door on federal marriage recognition, and paving the way for me and my partner of 20 years to legally elope to DC. I just couldn’t believe that the best possible outcome had just unfolded before my eyes.

Big Surprises Come in Unexpected Moments: Marriage Equality Expands in a Heartbeat

Photo by Maggie Winters of Pop! Wed Co.

And, yesterday was no different.

The day had begun innocently enough. I put the finishing touches on an article for this blog, and headed over to a committee meeting within the Arlington Public Schools system when an email from the Human Rights Campaign caught my eye. “BREAKING,” it said. “Supreme Court Action Means Marriage Equality for Five States by Declining Pending Cases.”

I was stunned.

Last week, the Supreme Court had passed on its first chance to announce its decision to review those cases and then, out of the blue, surprising almost everyone, the Supreme Court announced that it would not hear the 7 pending marriage cases from Virginia, Utah, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Oklahoma. The lower court rulings, which had overturned the Constitutional bans, would stand. Marriage equality would take effect as quickly as the individual states could respond.

And respond they did. Couples were marrying (and celebrating their now recognized out-of-state marriages) within hours of the (lack of a) ruling.

Our same-sex marriage map, which has been frozen for months, suddenly exploded in a new burst of color, and those colors will be seeping across state lines in the weeks to come.

Because the Supreme Court declined to hear the 7 cases from the various Circuit Court of Appeals (rather than as individual states, like California), more states move into play. So, yes, just as we leapt from 19 states + DC to 24 states + DC on Monday, we quickly welcomed one more (Colorado) into the mix and then encountered another surprise when the 9th Circuit Court brought Nevada and Idaho into play. By Wednesday, Nevada’s ban was dropped and the stay was lifted and other states (like South Carolina and Kansas) began to challenge their respective bans and West Virginia declared that it would not defend its ban. As of this writing, we expect to soon be able to move the count of marriage equality states to 35 (with the addition of other 4th, 9th & 10th Circuit Court states, such as: Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, & Wyoming).

And, of course, though the news is overshadowed by the Supreme Court announcement, it’s worth noting that Missouri just this past week has resolved that will recognize out-of-state marriages.

So you wedding professionals have your work cut out for you if you haven’t already prepared your business for the eventuality of marriage equality in your respective markets. I recommend that you review the webinars on extending your services to better serve same-sex couples available in the Education Center and read my past posts on the WeddingWireEDU Blog.

You might also want to check out the resources on www.WedWeCan.com – a great resource for wedding professionals and engaged couples. You can also share your support for marriage equality by downloading Wed We Can profile and cover images for Facebook and Twitter!

And, finally, we hope that you’ll take the time to review your listing on WeddingWire (as it appears on GayWeddings.com) to make sure that you’ve customized your profile image and text to be inclusive of same-sex couples. Or, if you haven’t opted in, we hope that you’ll join the more than 100,000 wedding professionals who are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples.

For almost two years now, we’ve been talking here on the WeddingWireEDU Blog and at WeddingWire World about the importance of keeping your eye on June of 2015 as the date by which we might have full marriage equality. We may not be celebrating a federal mandate by then, but it is highly likely that we’ll be celebrating marriage equality in 30 states and DC (if not more) by the end of this calendar year.

Photo courtesy of Maggie Winters of Pop! Wed Co. Based in Virgina, Maggie Winters is also a contributing photographer to “The New Art of Capturing Love.”