Originally published at Slate.com.


The Supreme Court’s decision Monday (Oct. 5, 2014) to decline the appeals of decisions striking down same-sex marriage bans in five states was, to most court-watchers, a huge surprise. It was also a deeply strange move given the magnitude of the constitutional issue and the general confusion about what a non-decision actually means. While Monday’s denial of certiorari was not technically a decision on the merits, most supporters of same-sex marriage celebrated the move as part of the justices’ inexorable crawl toward marriage equality. And in Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado, and other affected states, gay couples who have waited—in many cases for years—queued up to get licenses to marry their partners. Not all of them succeeded.