The Slatest

The Governors Ready to Accept the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling—and Those Who Aren’t

Same-sex marriage supporter Vin Testa of Washington, D.C., waves a rainbow pride flag near the Supreme Court on April 28, 2015.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Several Republican presidential hopefuls have already weighed in on Friday’s Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision—with at least one suggesting that Americans should not “acquiesce to an imperial court”—but the more important reactions in the short term are the ones that come from the governors of the 13 states where gay marriage was not yet officially legal. The responses that have come in so far can largely be lumped into two categories: acceptance and anger. Those in the former are preparing to comply with the ruling, while those in the latter appear to be weighing their options.


Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), via

Gay marriage is now legal in Michigan, and the state is taking steps to ensure compliance after defending its ban before the U.S. Supreme Court, Gov. Rick Snyder said Friday. “Same-sex marriage has been a divisive issue in Michigan and across our country. Recognizing that there are strong feelings on both sides, it is important for everyone to respect the judicial process and the decision today from the U.S. Supreme Court,” Snyder said in a statement. The Republican governor noted that state agencies will make various changes to comply with what is now the law of the land.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who is considering a presidential run, weighed in even before the ruling, via the Huffington Post:

[Kasich] said Wednesday that if the Supreme Court strikes down his state’s ban on same-sex marriage, he’ll “abide” by the decision. “If the Supreme Court rules another way, they are the court and the law of the land, and we will abide by it,” Kasich, a potential 2016 presidential contender, told reporters ahead of an appearance at a caucus candidate forum. The two-term governor has not yet announced he’s in the race.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R), via News Channel 9:

Haslam says in a statement, “The people of Tennessee have recently voted clearly on this issue. The Supreme Court has overturned that vote. We will comply with the decision and will ensure that our departments are able to do so as quickly as possible.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), via Twitter:

“The state of Georgia is subject to the laws of the United States, and we will follow them.”

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D), via the Associated Press:

Beshear sent a letter to all 120 county clerks telling them the Department of Libraries and Archives will send them a gender neutral form today along with instructions on how to use it. He told the clerks to consult with their county attorneys with specific questions, but said he knows they will respect the rule of law. Beshear, a Democrat, made national news last year when he overruled the state’s Democratic attorney general and hired outside attorneys to defend the state’s same sex marriage ban. In the letter he told the clerks that while their oath and the Supreme Court cannot tell them what to believe, it does tell them how to act.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) in a statement:

“Today’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges is a major victory for equality and an important step toward a fairer and more just society for all Americans. No one should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love. In the coming days, I will be taking all necessary and appropriate actions to ensure this decision is implemented throughout the state of Missouri.”

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R), via the Grand Forks Herald:

Dalrymple said Friday morning his state will follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. “The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is legal throughout the nation and we will abide by this federal mandate,” he said in a one-sentence statement.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), via the AP:

Daugaard says South Dakota will comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that same-sex couples have the right to get married anywhere in the United States.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) in a statement:

“The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken and ruled state same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional. While 70 percent of Nebraskans approved our amendment to our state constitution that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, the highest court in the land has ruled states cannot place limits on marriage between same-sex couples. We will follow the law and respect the ruling outlined by the court.”

No official word yet from Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), but it sounds like he won’t stand in the way, via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

The first couple to receive a same-sex wedding license after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay unions was married Friday by the same judge who struck down the ban in Arkansas last year. Earnie Matheson, 65, and Tony Chiaro, 73, showed up at the Pulaski County Courthouse about an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision. They applied for and were granted a license at the clerk’s office while reporters hovered around them and then embarked back into the rotunda to find someone to conduct the ceremony and wed them.


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who is running for president, via the Times-Picayune:

Moments after it was released, Gov. Bobby Jindal condemned the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, which gave same-sex couples a nationwide right to marry, including in Louisiana. … He characterized the Supreme Court’s decision as an attack on the religious rights of conservative Christians and others. It’s not clear yet what action he might take as governor to try and mitigate the Supreme Court ruling. Jindal’s statement was sent from his presidential campaign team, not the governor’s office.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), via the Texas Tribune:

Abbott vowed in a statement to defend the religious liberties of those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman, and said he would issue a directive to state agencies later in the day instructing them to prioritize such protections. “No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage,” Abbott said. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday asked county clerks in Texas to hold off on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until further word from him. On Friday morning, he issued a statement that offered no specifics on that, but suggested that the state’s next fight will be to defend those who oppose same-sex marriage based on their religious views. “It is not acceptable that people of faith be exposed to such abuse,” Paxton said.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R), via Mississippi News Now:

Bryant has released a statement on the ruling, saying that the new federal marriage standards are out of step with the wishes of many in the state. … Attorney General Jim Hood also released a statement on the ruling, saying that the Supreme Court’s decision is not yet effective in Mississippi. “The Supreme Court’s decision is not immediately effective in Mississippi. It will become effective in Mississippi, and circuit clerks will be required to issues same-sex marriage licenses, when the 5th Circuit lifts the stay of Judge Reeves’ order. This could come quickly or may take several days. The 5th Circuit might also choose not to lift the stay and instead issue an order, which could take considerably longer before it become effective.”

Read more of Slate’s coverage of same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court, including: