AUGUST 6: 6th Circuit Appeals Court will hear oral arguments in 5 marriage cases
June 17, 2014
This week, the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit scheduled a date for oral arguments in the appeals of five cases where judges have ruled in favor of the freedom to marry. In all four of the states that comprise the 6th Circuit - Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee - marriage cases will be heard on August 6, presumably by the same three-judge panel.
The three-judge panel is expected to be announced several weeks before the August 6 argument date. Each side in the Michigan and Ohio cases will have 30 minutes to make their case; each side in the Kentucky and Tennessee case will have 15 minutes.
Keep up on all of the news for the 6th Circuit marriage cases at www.6thCircuit.org.
Here's a breakdown of each case that will be heard on August 6:
- Kentucky's Bourke v. Beshear: On Feb. 12, a federal judge ruled in this case, brought by private firms Clay Daniel Walton & Adams and Fauver Law Office, that Kentucky must respect the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states. Notably, the Kentucky Attorney General, Jack Conway, announced that he would not appeal the ruling - but an appeal was still filed by KY Gov. Beshear.
- Michigan's DeBoer v. Snyder: On March 21, a federal judge ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in this case, striking down the marriage ban for same-sex couples. For the next 24 hours, more than 300 same-sex couples across the state received marriage licenses in Michigan until the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay in the decision. The state is now appealing the ruling.
- Ohio's Obergefell v. Wymyslo & Henry v. Himes: On Dec. 23, a federal judge ruled in Obergefell v. Wymyslo that the state of Ohio must respect the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states for the purpose of listing surviving spouses on death certificates. In April 2014, in a separate federal case, Henry v. Himes, the same judge ruled that Ohio must respect all married same-sex couples who wed in other states for all state purposes. Both cases were brought by private firms Gerhardstein & Branch Co., LPA and Newman & Meeks Co., LPA, with the ACLU joining Obergefell and Lambda Legal joining Henry.
- Tennessee's Tanco v. Haslam: On March 14, a federal judge ordered state officials to respect the marriages of three same-sex couples whose lawsuit, Tanco v. Haslam, challenges the state’s marriage ban. The couples are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
In total, 14 different marriage cases are currently pending before 6 different federal appellate courts. In April, a 3-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit heard oral arguments in marriage cases out of Oklahoma and Utah (Bishop v. Smith and Kitchen v. Herbert, respectively), and in May, a similar panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit heard arguments in a case out of Virginia (Bostic v. Rainey). Marriage supporters in both circuits (which include CO, KS, NM and WY in the 10th and MD, NC, SC and WV in the 4th) continue to await rulings.
As pro-marriage rulings stack up (with 20 consecutive rulings in favor of the freedom to marry since June 2013), decisions from federal appellate courts will multiply. We hope to win them all, expect to win many, and may even lose some. But our eyes, as always, are on the prize, and we are focused on making sure that elected officials, judges, and, yes, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court all know that America is ready for the freedom to marry, and for them to do the right thing and bring the country to national resolution.
The national strategy has always been to win marriage nationwide in the Supreme Court, and the key to encouraging the Court to finish the job has always been to work the tracks of the Roadmap to Victory: growing public support, winning marriage in more states, and ending federal discrimination.
"Freedom to Marry’s aim is not just to get to the Supreme Court, but to win in the Supreme Court," Evan Wolfson said earlier this year: "As we reach the federal appellate courts with momentum and majority support in every region of the country, it’s clear that America is ready for the freedom to marry."
Freedom to Marry has been tracking litigation with our Marriage Litigation resource to provide a comprehensive overview at all of the marriage-related legal cases already underway. Special thanks to Kathleen Perrin at Equality Case Files for always being thorough in posting essential documents from the courts.