Pleased by court rulings, backers of gay marriage now gird for fight to extend it nationwide

Even as they celebrate a momentous legal victory, supporters of gay marriage already are anticipating a return trip to the Supreme Court in a few years, sensing that no other option but a broader court ruling will legalize same-sex unions in all 50 states.

In the meantime, as one gay-rights leader said, there will be “two Americas” – and a host of legal complications for many gay couples moving between them.

Wednesday’s twin rulings from the high court will extend federal recognition to same-sex marriages in the states where they are legal, and will add California – the most populous state – to the 12 others in that category. That will mean about 30 percent of Americans live in states recognizing same-sex marriage.

But the court’s rulings have no direct effect on the constitutional amendments in 29 states that limit marriage to heterosexual couples. In a handful of politically moderate states such as Oregon, Nevada and Colorado those amendments could be overturned by ballot measures, but that’s considered highly unlikely in more conservative states.