» The 2015 Same-Sex Marriage Outlook

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.

The 2015 forecast for same-sex couples who wish to marry is sunny and warm, with a chance of clouds and the occasional burst of hot air.

While I think the chances of an unwelcome rogue thunderstorm surprising us are slim, one should never underestimate the impact of turbulent temperatures during seasonal shifts.

Metaphors aside, let’s break down the marriage equality legal landscape in 2015 beginning with this week’s action.

The 2015 Same-Sex Marriage OutlookThis Week

On January 5, a judge in Miami-Dade, Florida happily jumped the gun and allowed the first same-sex couples to marry. Effective January 6, same-sex marriages began in earnest in Florida; welcome news for the many LGBTQ couples and wedding professionals in this vibrant and strong market. Insider’s tip: though one shouldn’t expect an unprecendented market explosion since so much pent up demand for marriage has abated, it is reasonable to expect a healthy expansion of the market and an influx of new wedding dollars to excite this strong local and destination wedding base.

With the addition of Florida, thirty-six (36) states and the District of Columbia now recognize same-sex marriage. And, according to the Human Rights Campaign, with Florida, seventy (70) percent of Americans live in states that recognize marriage equality. Wow.

On Friday, January 9, the stakes for states awaiting news of marriage equality get even higher. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has received marriage equality cases for review from Louisiana, as well as from 6th Circuit Court of Appeals states: Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan.

It’s difficult to predict what SCOTUS will decide to review, but it is expected that the conflicting decision arising from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals (which found in favor of a marriage ban in OH) does provide more urgency for SCOTUS to step in and resolve the discrepancy (since two other Circuit Courts have found their marriage bans to be unconstitutional).

On January 9, the wait also ends for the three states in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals: Texas, Louisiana & Mississippi. The Louisiana case (see above) has also sought review by SCOTUS, jumping the queue, so it will have hands in play  on Friday. Though the 5th Circuit cases will be heard on Friday, we will not have an immediate decision.

Though it is also expected that decisions out of two states (Arkansas & Missouri) from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals could be appealed in early 2015, it’s likely that news from the SCOTUS review might impact this process.

What’s Ahead

I’ll be offering you legal landscape updates and implications, and encourage you to check back by Monday, January 12 for news on the SCOTUS review. If they accept a case (or set of cases), history would suggest a mid-spring hearing (perhaps March, timing itself conveniently with my appearance at WeddingWire World 2015 in Washington DC?) and a late decision with a dramatic wait before the SCOTUS term closes in late June.

In light of the positive momentum that has occurred across the US, it’s a strong possibility that we’ll be celebrating marriage equality across the US by June of 2015. So, if, as a professional, you haven’t adequately prepared your business to welcome all couples inclusively, now is the time!

As the New Year begins, resolve to join the Wed We Can movement and better serve all couples, regardless of sexual orientation.

Want more tips for how to better serve same-sex couples? Start with these next steps:

Photo by Brittany Graham Photography