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Kentucky, three other states in spotlight as appeals court hears same-sex marriage cases

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit hears arguments at 1 p.m. today on six court cases challenging bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky and three other states. The appeals will be heard by a three-judge panel – Judge Jeffrey Sutton of Ohio, Judge Deborah L. Cook of Ohio, Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey of Tennessee. Following is a brief overview:

The cases

Over the last year, federal judges in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee have ruled that these states’ laws and constitutional amendments that exclude same-sex couples from marrying violate the U.S. Constitution. In total there have been 19 federal court rulings across the country against bans on marriage equality – 16 federal district court rulings and three circuit court rulings upholding district court rulings – all since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor in June of last year.

1 sixth

Kentucky: On Feb. 12, U.S. District Court Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled in Bourke v. Beshear that Kentucky ’s marriage amendment violates the constitutional principal of equal protection and that the Commonwealth cannot refuse to recognize valid same-sex marriages performed in other states. The judge sided with four plaintiff couples who had legally married elsewhere before seeking state recognition in Kentucky. Soon after, two unmarried same-sex couples were permitted to intervene in the case. The case was renamed Love v. Beshear and on July 1, 2014, Judge Heyburn again ruled against Kentucky’s marriage ban, this time deciding against the provision forbidding the Commonwealth from performing marriages for same-sex couples. Judge Heyburn stayed his decisions in each ruling, pending appeal to the Sixth Circuit.

Michigan: On March 21, U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman ruled against Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage in DeBoer v. Snyder. In the 24 hours that followed, more than 300 same-sex couples across the state obtained marriage licenses until the Sixth Circuit granted a stay in the decision. Michigan has a three-day wait period after receiving a marriage license before couples can wed. The case was filed by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who wanted to jointly adopt the three children that they were raising as foster parents. Judge Friedman as the presiding judge expanded the challenge to the constitutionality of the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, as that was what prevented DeBoer and Rose from jointly adopting.

Ohio: On Dec. 23, 2013, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black ruled in Obergefell v. Himes that the Ohio’s refusal to recognize the marriage of a same-sex couple who married in another jurisdiction is unconstitutional. The case was filed in July 2013 on behalf of Jim Obergefell and John Arthur, who were seeking recognition of their Maryland marriage on John’s death certificate, before John’s death. The court ordered the state to recognize Jim and John’s marriage when John died on Oct. 22, 2013, allowing his death certificate to list Jim as his surviving spouse. Gerhardstein is joined by the ACLU and ACLU of Ohio in this case. On April 14, Judge Black ruled in another Ohio marriage case – Henry v. Himes, this time ruling that the state must recognize all marriages of same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions. In Henry, Al Gerhardstein and Lambda Legal represent couples who wish for their out-of-state marriages to be recognized so that both parents’ names will be listed on their children’s birth certificates.

Tennessee: On March 14, U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger ordered Tennessee state officials to recognize the out-of-state marriages of three same-sex couples. Judge Trauger did not stay her ruling in Tanco v. Haslam, noting that the plaintiff couples would likely be victorious. The Sixth Circuit later stayed the ruling.

From Human Rights Campaign, other reports

You might also be interested in reading:
Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, U.S. judge rules
How to respond to same-sex marriage order differs from governor to attorney general
Judge rules again that Kentucky can’t refuse recognition to same-sex marriages

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