Tag Archives: sixth circuit court of appeals

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds same-sex marriage bans

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Nov. 6 overturned lower court rulings that struck down Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee bans on marriage equality.

Until this ruling, no state marriage ban had survived a federal circuit court ruling.

The 2-1 decision by the Sixth Circuit creates a circuit court split, which increases the likelihood of the U.S. Supreme Court taking up the issue in the near future, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

HRC prresident Chad Griffin, in a statement released after the ruling, said, “The legacies of Judges Deborah Cook and Jeffrey Sutton will forever be cemented on the wrong side of history. Today the Sixth Circuit stood in the way of a path constructed by two dozen federal court rulings over the last year — a path that inevitably leads to nationwide marriage equality. Gay and lesbian couples in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee are just as deserving of marriage equality as the rest of America. Now, more than ever before, the Supreme Court of the United States must take up the issue and decide once and for all whether the Constitution allows for such blatant discrimination. We believe that justice and equality will prevail.”

Chase Strangio, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, said, “This decision is an outlier that’s incompatible with the 50 other rulings that uphold fairness for all families, as well as with the Supreme Court’s decision to let marriage equality rulings stand in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia. It is shameful and wrong that John Arthur’s death certificate may have to be revised to list him as single and erase his husband’s name as his surviving spouse.

“We believe it’s wholly unconstitutional to deny same sex couples and their families access to the rights and respect that all other families receive. We will be filing for Supreme Court review right away and hope that through this deeply disappointing ruling we will be able to bring a uniform rule of equality to the entire country.”

Today’s ruling was an attempt by the two judges to appeal to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s prior opinions regarding the validity of state constitutional amendments, specifically his opinion in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.

The plaintiffs now have the option to request an appeal before the full bench of the Sixth Circuit, known as en banc. The Sixth Circuit decides whether or not to grant that request.

If denied, the plaintiffs may appeal today’s ruling to the Supreme Court of the United States. The plaintiffs may also bypass an en banc session and appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

6th Circuit hears 6 equality cases from 4 states

UPDATED: The outcome of a lengthy session in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 6 could impact the lives of an estimated 52,400 same-sex couples and 18,300 children.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA Law School estimates there are 19,684 same-sex couples residing in Ohio, 14,598 same-sex couples in Michigan, 7,195 same-sex couples in Kentucky and 10,898 same-sex couples in Tennessee.

Many of them will be looking for their federal appeals court to rule for equality in the six cases heard from the four states in one day — the most marriage cases that any federal circuit court has ever heard in a single day.

Oral arguments took place on Aug. 6 in Cincinnati, where a panel of three judges — Martha Craig Daughtrey, Jeffrey S. Sutton and Deborah L. Cook — weighed arguments to decide whether federal district judges made the correct decisions in ruling for marriage equality.

A rally took place outside the courthouse while the hearing was taking place, and another rally took place on the eve of the oral arguments.

Early reports from the hearing indicated that two of the three judges suggested marriage issues should be decided by the democratic process, not the courts.

A ruling against same-sex marriage in the Sixth Circuit would create a division at the federal appeals court level. Already this year, appeals courts in the Fourth and the Tenth circuits have struck down constitutional amendments barring same-sex couples from marrying. Ruling against amendments in Virginia, Utah and Oklahoma, the courts said that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry.

In the decision that overturned Virginia’s anti-gay ban, Judge Henry F. Floyd said, “Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.”

The decision prompted North Carolina’s attorney general to say he would no longer defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. North Carolina’s amendment, enacted by voters in 2012, was the last to be approved before the tide of victories for marriage equality.

On Aug. 26, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago is scheduled to hear arguments in the equality cases from Wisconsin and Indiana.

In September, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments in cases out of Idaho and Nevada.

Any of the appeals court rulings could end up being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, making a final verdict on marriage equality possibly by next summer, two years after the Court’s landmark ruling against the federal ban on gay marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act.

The high court has been asked to review the decisions overturning Utah’s anti-marriage amendment and also Oklahoma’s ban on marriage equality.

Circuit by circuit

There are some 75-plus marriage equality cases at various levels of consideration in U.S. courts — at federal and state levels.

Wisconsin’s case is before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Illinois and Indiana.

FIRST CIRCUIT: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico.

SECOND CIRCUIT: Vermont, New York and Connecticut.

THIRD CIRCUIT: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware.

FOURTH CIRCUIT: Maryland, District of Columbia, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina.

FIFTH CIRCUIT: Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

SIXTH CIRCUIT: Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

EIGHTH CIRCUIT: Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

NINTH CIRCUIT: Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Hawaii.

TENTH CIRCUIT: Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma.

ELEVENTH CIRCUIT: Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

— L.N.