gay marriage

Justices To Discuss Louisiana Gay Marriage Case

Dec 18, 2014

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.

Beshear Asks Supreme Court To Rule On Same Sex Marriage Ban

Dec 10, 2014
Office of Ky Governor

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 Kentucky’s and several other states’ same-sex marriage bans.

Beshear says the nation’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 File Supreme Court Appeal

Nov 14, 2014

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.

Alix Mattingly

In oral arguments Wednesday before a federal appeals court, Gov. Steve Beshear's attorney re-emphasized a stance 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. 6th 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. 

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.

Gregory Bourke

Gregory Bourke of Louisville has waited a long time for his day in court.

“Thirty-two years we’ve been together," Bourke told WKU Public Radio.  "Most other couples would have been married and recognized and put all this to rest a long time ago.”

Bourke, his husband, and their adopted children will be in the courtroom Wednesday as the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals takes up gay marriage fights in Kentucky and three other states.

“I think this is a major historic moment in the history of American constitutional law," suggested Dr. Patti Minter, a legal and constitutional historian at WKU. 

The cases from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Michigan are each unique, but they all deal with whether statewide gay marriage bans violate the Constitution.

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 week’s hearing, challenging the state’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage.

“What 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 we’re going to do is restore rights that should have already been there in the first place.”

The outcome of Wednesday’s hearing will likely lead to the cases being heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kentucky’s gay marriage case will go before a GOP-leaning panel next month.  The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati is made up of two Republican appointees and one Democratic. 

Appellate judges Jeffrey Sutton and Deborah Cook were appointed by President George W. Bush.  The Courier-Journal reports Sutton’s nomination was adamantly opposed by liberal groups.  In March, he wrote in Harvard Law Review “Count me as a skeptic when it comes to the idea that this day and age suffers from a shortage of constitutional rights.” 

The other judge considering Kentucky’s case is Martha Craig Daughtrey, appointed by President Bill Clinton. 

Legal experts are quick to note that district judges from both parties have struck down gay marriage bans.  And Sutton, whose nomination was so fiercely opposed by liberals, wrote the first federal appeals court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. 

Lawyers for Governor Beshear are asking the appeals court to reverse rulings from U.S. District Judge John Heyburn that Kentucky must recognize out-of-state gay marriages and allow them to be performed in Kentucky. 

The same panel on August 6 will take up similar cases from Tennessee, Ohio, and Michigan.

Judge Strikes Down Kentucky's Gay Marriage Ban

Jul 1, 2014

A federal judge has ruled that Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, a decision that could pave the way for same-sex couples to get married in the state.

Federal Judge John Heyburn ruled Tuesday that the state’s 2004 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause, calling the state’s counter argument that gay couples can’t contribute to the state’s economic well being because they can’t procreate “illogical” and “bewildering.”

Dan Cannon is an attorney for the couples involved in the suit. He tells Kentucky Public Radio it’s only a matter of time before Kentucky joins 19 states that have legalized same-sex marriages.

“We’re excited about the ruling and we’re optimistic about it, and we’re optimistic that same-sex couples will in the very near future be able to get marriage licenses in Kentucky,” said Cannon.  

In a statement, Gov. Steve Beshear says he plans to appeal Heyburn’s ruling in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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