Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 4:17 pm
Updated at 5:04 p.m. ET
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide on gay marriage this term.
The justices said today they will review an appellate court's decision to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky. The four states are among 14 that ban same-sex marriage.
Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 3:05 pm
The U.S. Supreme Court could decide this month whether it will consider same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky.
Last year, KentuckyÂ same-sexÂ couples challenged the stateâ€™s constitutional same-sex marriage ban, asking that their marriages from other jurisdictions be recognized. U.S. District Judge John Heyburn sided with the couples. Later in 2014, Heyburn ruled in a separate case that the state must also allow same-sex marriages to be performed in Kentucky. He also issued a stay on the decisions pending appeal.
The Supreme Court has added the challenge to Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban to the agenda for the justices' closed-door conference on Jan. 9.
The action Wednesday does not mean the court will decide that day to hear a gay-marriage case. But the January meeting will be the first time the justices will have had the issue before them since they opted in October against taking up same-sex marriage.
The Louisiana case is unusual in that it has yet to be heard by a federal appeals court. But same-sex couples challenging an appellate ruling upholding bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee also could be considered by the court next month.
The justices would have time to hear and decide on gay marriage by late June, if they act in January.
The Tennessee attorney general is asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear an appeal of a ruling last month that upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Instead, it wants the high court to let that favorable ruling stand.
The ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals marked a rare victory for gay rights opponents. But because it conflicts with gay marriage decisions in other circuits, legal observers believe it could push the Supreme Court to take up the issue of gay marriage.
In a Monday court filing, Tennessee argues that there is no need for the Supreme Court to review the case because both the 6th Circuit's opinion and Supreme Court precedent recognize the inherent power of the states to define marriage.
In what some are calling an unusual move, Gov. Steve Beshear has filed a petition requesting the U.S. Supreme Court decide whether states can reject same-sex marriage.
It comes after a federal appeals court upheld Kentuckyâ€™s and several other statesâ€™ same-sex marriage bans.
Beshear says the nationâ€™s highest court should decide whether states like Kentucky can prohibit same-sex marriage, and settle the question of whether Kentucky must recognize gay marriages performed out-of-state.
Same-sex couples seeking the right to marry are asking the Supreme Court to settle the issue of gay marriage nationwide.
Appeals being filed Friday urge the justices to review last week's lower court ruling that upheld anti-gay marriage laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
The ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was the first appellate ruling to side with states seeking to preserve gay marriage bans since the Supreme Court struck down part of a federal anti-gay marriage law last year.
A U.S. appeals court in Chicago has ruled that gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional.
Thursday's decision by a three-judge panel at the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals bumps the number of states where gay marriage will be legal from 19 to 21. The decision was unanimous.
The Wisconsin and Indiana cases shifted to Chicago after their attorneys general appealed separate lower court rulings in June tossing the bans. The 7th Circuit stayed those rulings pending its own decision.
In oral arguments Wednesday before a federal appeals court, Gov. Steve Beshear's attorney re-emphasized a stanceÂ that same-sex should not be allowed because the couples cannot procreate, raising issues for Kentucky's population growth and economy.
The three-judge panel from the U.S. 6thÂ Circuit Court of Appeals will decide the fate of same-sex marriage bans in four states, including Kentucky, as the issue winds its way toward a likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The case could prove "pivotal" because, unlike past federal appeals courts that took up the same-sex marriage issue, the 6th Circuit may allow to stand state laws banning such marriage, legal observer Carl Tobias told Kentucky Public Radio before the arguments.Â
If appeals court affirmed the state laws, these cases would have a greater chance of being argued before the Supreme Court, said Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.
The appeals court will likely render an opinion within the next several months.
The legal arguments for and against gay marriage bans in Kentucky and three other states will be heard Wednesday in Cincinnati's 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The court will hear oral arguments in six cases to determine whether same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky are constitutional.
Laura Landenwich is an attorney for a same-sex couple in Louisville involved in this weekâ€™s hearing, challenging the stateâ€™s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage.
â€śWhat we are seeing with all of these decisions that have come down over the last year, is that once you start looking at the constitutional implications of these bans, they cannot pass constitutional review," Landenwich said. "So hopefully what weâ€™re going to do is restore rights that should have already been there in the first place.â€ť
The outcome of Wednesdayâ€™s hearing will likely lead to the cases being heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.