US: Equality lawyer says same-sex marriage will be in 50 states ‘within a year’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A leading marriage equality lawyer has said that same-sex marriage in all 50 states is likely to be a reality within 12 months.

Lawyer Paul Smith, who was part of the team that successfully challenged the Defence of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court last year, has claimed that equality could come to every state sooner than expected.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, with court cases challenging for marriage equality in every remaining state.

So far, six of the cases have made it to federal appeals courts, from where the decision will likely head to the US Supreme Court.

Smith told Vox that he estimates that in the best possible scenario, the Supreme Court could rule on a case by next June, and opt to bring same-sex marriage to every state.

He said: “It’s interesting and surprising how quickly courts are getting to the merits of deciding the cases — expediting briefings, expediting cases.

“Courts usually take their time about things, but somehow there seems to be a perception that this is an issue that needs to be decided fairly quickly.”

Smith also laid out a less likely scenario, where marriage equality will stall in the system and will not be in every state until 2016.

However, he remains hopeful for a resolution within a year, and said the Supreme Court are likely to want to resolve the issue.

He said: “My personal view is that the Supreme Court wants to be the one to decide this issue, not the lower courts, so the Supreme Court will probably take it.

“There’s an old expression: the Supreme Court follows the election results, too.

“The way constitutional law functions is it responds the popular views, even though sometimes the court is required to do things that are very unpopular.”

“Most observers think there are five [of nine] votes [in the Supreme Court] for the pro-equality side — the same five that felt the Defence of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.”