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 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.
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.
Republican efforts to win control of the Kentucky House got a boost from a national figure Saturday.
The incoming U.S. House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, was in Bowling Green to raise money for the Republican Party of Kentucky House Trust. McCarthy visited the commonwealth at the request of the state’s 2nd District Congressman, Brett Guthrie of Warren County.
Speaking to reporters before the fundraiser, Rep. McCarthy said what happens in state legislatures can often trickle up to the nation's capital.
“I feel states are able to show and be a generator of ideas greater than Washington--that you can do the pilot programs,” the California Republican said. “The whole concept of welfare reform came from states. States don’t get to print more money. States have to balance a budget. States have to move forward. They carry out agencies they didn’t create.”
Democrats have controlled the Kentucky House for over 90 years, and the party’s state leaders say they will continue to hold the chamber despite the amount of GOP money being raised ahead of the November election. Republicans would have to win a net gain of five seats this fall to take control of the House.
During his visit to The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, McCarthy said he agreed with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s recent statements about Republicans needing to expand the party’s appeal to groups that haven’t recently voted for the GOP in large numbers, such as African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people.
Same-sex Kentucky couples are heading to the commonwealth's only contiguous state that allows same sex marriage to make their unions legal.
Illinois began issuing marriage licenses for the first time officially on June 1.
Massac County Clerk John Taylor says the office has been busy, issuing at least 20 licenses in May, ahead of the state deadline, most of which he says came from out of state.
“It’s busy because we’re getting a lot of questions, a lot of phone calls," said Taylor. "We have issued a bunch about 14 or 15 marriages and we already issued six yesterday, from Tennessee, Kentucky, we’ve had some from Florida.”
Taylor said the office issued six this morning, including Kentuckians Hunter Fawks and Seth Stewart who drove over six hours from Ashland to pick up their licenses.
Indiana Republicans will vote next month on a provision in their party’s platform that would reintroduce language about “traditional marriage.”
The Indiana GOP eliminated the language regarding traditional marriage in 2012. But party delegates last week decided to reintroduce the issue to the party platform. Republican delegates next month will vote on whether to add the following language to their platform: “We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society.”
Not all Hoosier State Republicans back the effort to reintroduce marriage language into the party’s platform. The Indianapolis Star-Tribune quotes GOP delegate Megan Robertson—who is gay—as saying the effort is “bad for the Republican Party.”
While the proposed platform also contains language that recognizes “diverse” family structures, Robertson says the platform should focus on issues that unite the party, as opposed to dividing it.
Those backing the platform say it contains recognition of “blended families, grandparents, guardians, and loving adults” who raise children.
Indiana must recognize a gay couple’s out-of-state marriage for at least a few days more as a federal judge considers whether to extend an April order requiring the state to acknowledge the union.
U.S. District Judge Richard Young heard arguments Friday in Evansville on a request that the state recognize the 2013 Massachusetts marriage of Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler of Munster. Quasney is terminally ill with advanced ovarian cancer, and the couple fears Sandler’s ability to collect Social Security and other death benefits would be harmed if their marriage isn’t recognized.
Young granted the couple a temporary restraining order last month, but it is set to expire Thursday.
Attorneys for the state say there are other legal ways for Sandler to obtain property benefits after Quasney dies.
Indiana law defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The state does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions conducted in other states.
A federal judge is giving Kentucky more time to officially recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries.
The ruling Wednesday comes just two days before gay couples would have been allowed to change their names on official identifications and documents and obtain the benefits of any married couple in Kentucky.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn in a four-page order said it is best that momentous changes in the law happen after full review, rather than running the risk of premature implementation or confusing the issues.
Heyburn's order is similar to orders granting same-sex marriage recognition rights but putting implementation on hold in Texas, Utah, Virginia and other states.