On Friday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl struck down Wyoming’s gay marriage ban, making it the third pro-marriage equality decision of the day. Skavdahl, an Obama appointee, essentially had no choice but to invalidate Wyoming’s ban; the state falls within the 10th Circuit, where marriage equality is now officially law. A decision upholding the ban would have been legally unjustifiable and judicially impudent.
While Skavdahl ruled the right way, he made it quite clear that his heart wasn’t in it. First, Skavdahl stayed the decision until Oct. 23—a completely pointless exercise since marriage equality is already law of the circuit. Second, he closed the principal portion of his opinion with an awkward, cranky kiss-off to his judicial superiors:
The preferred forum for addressing the issues presented by Plaintiffs in this case is the arena of public debate and legislative action. However, that ship has sailed. It is not the desire or preference of this Court to, with the stroke of a pen, erase a State’s legislative enactments. Nonetheless, the binding precedent of [the 10th Circuit’s decisions] mandate this result, and this Court will adhere to its Constitutional duties and abide by the rule of law.
Not exactly a love letter to marriage equality, but it’ll do the job. And since Wyoming’s Republican governor has already refused to appeal the ruling, wedding bells will soon be ringing in Liz Cheney’s adopted home state. It’s about time, too. When gay couples can exchange vows next to Old Faithful, you know the marriage equality fight is drawing to a close.