Our View: Supreme Court needs to get in gear regarding same-sex marriage

Statesman staffMay 20, 2014 

It is ill-advised to use "hurry up," or "expedite" in reference to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nobody rushes the Supreme Court to judgment — nor should they when it comes to making momentous decisions on something as profound as delivering an opinion on all of the same-sex marriage cases swamping courts across the country with briefs.

That said, recent federal court action in nearly a dozen (and counting) states — combined with Supreme Court inaction regarding same-sex marriage — is creating a patchwork from Oregon, Idaho and Utah to the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. We hope we don't have to get used to this protracted situation, but the provocative subject matter and the slow, deliberate pace of the courts almost guarantees it.

We know about the 10th Amendment and states' rights issues. We know about "unconstitutional" constitutional amendments such as the one banning same-sex marriage in Idaho. And we know about arguments arising out of the 14th Amendment regarding equal protection under the law.

If this were about a presidential election and there were hanging chads involved, we could get immediate clarity. But considering the Supreme Court has all but finished with oral arguments in the October 2013 term and is headed for a quiet summer, it will be the October 2014 term before it could resume its routine — and more likely 2015 for hearing arguments.

Just in case the justices haven't heard, 11 of 11 federal district courts have struck down same-sex marriage bans. Add up the populations of these states (we add California where there is still unfinished business) and you're talking more than one third of the U.S. population idling in some manifestation of matrimonial limbo.

Idaho Navy veteran Madelynn Taylor just wants to know if she can be buried in a state cemetery beside the remains of the woman she married. States such as Idaho are about to spend precious funds and resources defending the idea of traditional marriage between a man and woman.

No one is looking for the judicial branch to legislate. But it is time to collate the many aspects of this issue and prepare for a date that will relieve some of the legal confusion confounding our citizenry. Both sides in this debate want a hearing. It is high time for the high court to prepare to get its docket in gear.

"Our View" is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman's editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idahostatesman.com.

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