» The Marriage Equality Streak Is Broken: What Does This Mean For Wedding Pros?

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 (11-12-2014): Since this post, marriage equality advanced in South Carolina. A federal judge overturned the ban on same-sex marriage, leading the way for marriage equality in the Palmetto state thanks to the binding pro-marriage equality ruling of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision is on stay until Nov. 20.

Experts’s Note (11-13-2014): On November 12, the Supreme Court lifted the stay on marriage in Kansas, making Kansas the 33rd state to allow marriage.

Four weeks ago, I was struggling to keep up with what states needed to be added – and in what expedited order – to the count of marriage equality states. Today, the marriage pace has changed.

Since my last post on the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the pending marriage equality cases, more states have moved toward joining the list of states that recognize marriage equality (including Missouri), but, more significantly, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals broke with the trend of favorable Circuit Court decisions and announced its decision to uphold the bans on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan.

This mixed result – it’s the first Circuit Court of the four (the 4th, 6th, 7th & 10th) that have heard marriage-related legislation to uphold a marriage ban – is one that invites the Supreme Court back to the table to weigh in.

Marriage Equality by June, 2015?

For those of you interested in the details of legislative journey of challenges to the ban in the 6th Circuit Court (impacting OH, KY, TN & MI), keep an eye on the blogs of Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Otherwise, know that the legal teams from the four states in the 6th Circuit Court plan to appeal directly to the Supreme Court in hopes that the quick action will result in the Supreme Court choosing to hear the case during this term. And, yes, this action would set up a possible result of a federal ruling on marriage equality by June 2015.

There are many small legal twists and turns to expect along the way, and one can never predict exactly how the Supreme Court might react, but there is plenty of reason to be hopeful that the Justices will weigh in this term on the question of marriage equality as the law of the land. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had noted not long before the current term, there would be little reason for the Supreme Court to weigh in unless there was a conflict in rulings arising through the lower courts. The 6th Circuit Court, as the only court to uphold its states’ bans, has just introduced the need for some black-robed referees to help settle the question of marriage equality.

Gay Weddings and States to Watch in The Meanwhile

So, you might be asking, what should we expect in the meanwhile? Here’s a quick look at the legal landscape:

  • Marriages will continue to be recognized in the current 32 states and the District of Columbia.
  • A federal judge in Missouri has ruled in favor of marriage equality, but the Attorney General in that state has said he will appeal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Like SC, Kansas and Montana are also in regions where the higher court has found in favor of marriage equality so all eyes are focused here, waiting to see how the binding pro-marriage equality precedent will play out. In Kansas, a federal judge opened the door to marriage equality on Nov. 11, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor weighed in on Nov. 10, placing a temporary block. In Montana, a federal judge is set to hear its case on November 20. So, clearly, there’s more to come, perhaps even if it rolls out in the “hurry up and wait” category

Same-Sex Marriage as it Has Evolved

I’d like to close by sharing with you on of my new favorite maps. (As you know, you can also pop over to GayWeddings.com to see our marriage map; visit our Wed We Can resource; or you can get more info on your state from Freedom To Marry.) This new, interactive marriage map produced by Pew Research offers a slider that allows you to show how marriage equality has evolved state-by-state over time (from 1995-present). I had great fun thinking back through the year my straight mom founded our company (1999) through to today.

1999 – Gretchen Hamm founded TwoBrides.com and TwoGrooms.com, which rebranded as GayWeddings.com in 2005.

The same-sex marriage landscape in 1999

2011 – WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com launch its groundbreaking directory of LGBTQ-friendly wedding professionals, offering engaged couples the most comprehensive resource of professionals ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples.

The same-sex marriage landscape in 2011

Nov, 2014 – In the course of one brief year, the United States leaps from recognizing same-sex marriage in 19 states to 33 and the District of Columbia and WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com announce the support of more than 100,000 Wedding Pros in its LGBTQ-friendly directory.

The same-sex marriage landscape in 2014

Top 3 Steps Pros Can Take

  1. If you haven’t already reviewed or customized your profile image on your GayWeddings.com listing, do so today! If your listing features a bride and groom pairing as your profile image and/or the language is not inclusive, you may be losing inquiries.
  2. Download a custom social media header and profile image for Facebook and Twitter from Wed We Can to show your support for marriage equality!
  3. Contact all Pros on your referral list and make sure that you know where your colleagues stand on readiness to serve same-sex couples BEFORE you send a couple their way.