Only 5 states have gay marriage bans that aren’t being challenged

April 10, 2014

State gay marriage laws, March 23, 2013. (Masuma Ahuja, Robert Barnes, Emily Chow and Cristina Rivero)

UPDATE 4/23/2014: Georgia has now been sued over its ban a challenge of South Dakota’s ban is expected next week. 

Heterosexual-only marriage is safe in just five states, for now at least.

Gay marriage is now legal in 17 states and bans are being challenged in 30, according to the latest count from Lambda Legal, a pro-gay marriage organization. (Hawaii and Illinois allow gay marriage, but legal technicalities  to aspects of their laws are still being ironed out in the courts.) The five states with bans on gay marriage that stand unchallenged are: Alaska, Georgia, Montana, North Dakota  and South Dakota.

The five unchallenged state gay marriage bans may not stand for long. Already, a South Dakota couple has plans to challenge their state ban. And  the Supreme Court could soon weigh in.

Among those 30 states (and Puerto Rico) there are 65 pending lawsuits. Forty four of them are in federal courts, and the nationwide battle escalates today with a federal appeals court review of Utah’s ban, our own Robert Barnes reports:

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver will be considering Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, which was struck down in December by a federal district judge in Salt Lake City.

It is a review soon to be repeated around the country, the intermediate step in returning a question to the Supreme Court that the justices avoided the first time around — whether marriage is a fundamental right that under the Constitution may not be denied to same-sex couples.

Click here to see an interactive showing the changing landscape of marriage laws.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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Niraj Chokshi · April 10, 2014