What recent court decisions prohibited gay marriage?

Yesterday, a Washington Superior Court judge issued an opinion (PDF File) in which he concluded that the Washington law prohibiting same sex marriage violated the Washington Constitution. Although decided under Washington law, the judge recognized the reasoning of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 440 Mass. 309 (2003) (holding that Massachusetts must recognize same sex marriages) and Baker v. State, 170 Vt. 194 (1999) (holding that Vermont must give same sex couples rights of married couples in marriage or civil unions) as supporting the factual basis under which he concluded that prohibiting gay marriage “is not rationally related to any legitimate or compelling state interest.”

The court also cited Lawrence v. Texas, which holds that a prohibition of homosexual sodomy “furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.”

Although the recent decisions rejecting prohibitions against same sex marriage have been well publicized, I do not recall reading about other recent decisions that upheld prohibitions against gay marriage (except for preliminary decisions in New York and California enjoining ongoing gay weddings but deferring the ultimate Constitutional question). In the Washington case, there were no such decisions cited.

So, my question is what, if any, are the recent judicial decisions that have considered federral or state Constitutional requirements and upheld a prohibition against gay marriage. Although earlier decisions are of interest, I’m wondering particularly about any decided since the 2003 Lawrence and Goodridge decisions.

By the way, as this is GQ, I’m looking here for citiatons or references to the decisions themselves and not to discussions of them. There’s plenty of room in GD for that.

I don’t believe there have been any state court decisions since Lawrence v. Texas that have denied same-sex marriages.

An Arizona case, Standhart v. Superior Court (Prohibition of gay marriage in Az. doesn’t violate either state or federal constitutional rights)


You might also want to follow Morrison v. Sadler, which is on appeal (Lesbian couple gets a civil union in Vermont, is suing to make Indiana recognize it) and Citizens for Equal Protection v. Attorney General (claiming that Nebraska’s constitutional ban of recognition of same sex marriage violates federal constitutional guarantees.)

It doesn’t really address the constitutional arguments and has other issues, but there is In Re Gardner, 273 Kan. 191 (2002).


In re Gardiner isn’t really a SSM case in the way that the other cited cases are. It’s a transgender marriage case and a case to determine how sex is legally determined (by chromosomes, according to the court).

The clerk of Sandoval County, New Mexico, issued a handful of marriage licenses to same-sex couples but is now enjoined from issuing any more. She is appealing the injunction and no ruling has been made on the merits.


Thanks for the replies.

I’m also wondering about any pre-2003 decisions and the rationale behind them.

Further, do you know if the California Supreme Court that halted the San Francisco same sex marriages and the New York, Oregon and other decisions that did likewise are on line?

True in essence, but the implications are interesting for SSM, in that the only reason why a transsexual person could not marry someone of his/her birth phenotype gender would be a prohibition of SSM. If Sara had been born as Samuel, gotten sexual reassignment surgery, and then contracted a Lesbian union with Maureen in Vermont or Massachusetts, there would be no bar against that. Only in states in which SSM is illegal would there be a bar to that union.

(Note intriguingly that Sara/Samuel might have banked sperm prior to the SRS, enabling Maureen to have children by Sara.)

Note that these are preliminary decisions that just halt further issuance of same-sex marriage licenses until the matter can be reviewed thru the normal appeals process. These decisions do not address the actual issue of same-sex marriage.

I’m not sure if the text of these decisions is online in a freely-accessible site.

The Minnesota decision on same-sex marriage (from 1970) did address the issue. The judge basically said that although the gender-neutral wording of the law would seem to allow same-sex marriage, it would be ridiculous to believe that this was what the legislature actually intended. I’ll see if I can find that decision online.