Tennessee Plaintiffs Appeal Sixth Circuit Ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court
Today National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), attorneys Abby Rubenfeld, Maureen Holland, and Regina Lambert, and the law firms of Sherrard & Roe PLC and Ropes & Gray LLP requested the Supreme Court of the United States hear their case.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned lower court rulings that struck down state marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. This was the first time a federal appeals court ruled against marriage equality after four other federal appeals courts upheld district court rulings that the bans are unconstitutional.
“The court of appeals’ holding not only denies recognition to petitioners’ own marriages and families, but also establishes a “checkerboard” nation in which same-sex couples’ marriages are dissolved and reestablished as they travel across the country,” the plaintiff couples stated in the request. “That is the antithesis of the stability that marriage is supposed to afford.”
Earlier today, Lambda Legal, the ACLU and private firm Gerhardstein & Branch also petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for a writ of certiorari, the formal request that the Court review its cases challenging Ohio’s constitutional ban on marriage equality.
Source: HRC Blog, “Tennessee Plaintiffs Appeal Sixth Circuit Ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court,” November 14, 2014 by Maureen McCarty, HRC Associate Director of Digital Media
Federal Judge Blocks Kansas’s Ban on Marriage Equality
BREAKING: With the stay lifted, same-sex couples in Kansas can begin applying for marriage licenses immediately. (November 12, 5:45 p.m. EST)
[On November 4, 2014], U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued a preliminary injunction in Marie v. Moser, ordering Kansas to stop enforcing its discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Judge Crabtree granted the state’s request for a stay, so no marriages will begin until 5:00pm CST on November 11.
Kansas was the only remaining state within the jurisdiction of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled earlier this year that bans on marriage equality violate the U.S. Constitution. Those rulings were allowed to stand when the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the cases on appeal, paving the way for marriage equality to become law in all states within the Tenth Circuit where marriage bans were still in effect – Colorado, Wyoming and now, Kansas.
“Kansas’ same-sex marriage ban does not differ in any meaningful respect from the Utah and Oklahoma laws the Tenth Circuit found unconstitutional,” Judge Crabtree writes. “Because Tenth Circuit precedent is binding on this Court, Kitchen and Bishop dictate the result here.”
The state now has the option to appeal today’s order to the Tenth Circuit, which has already ruled such marriage bans unconstitutional.
With Kansas, 33 states will have marriage equality. Congratulations to the plaintiff couples, the ACLU and all those working to secure marriage equality nationwide in America!
Source: HRC Blog, “Federal Judge Blocks Kansas’s Ban on Marriage Equality,” November 4, 2014 by Charlie Joughin
A look at how courts differ on gay marriage
Rev. Katie Hotze-Wilton signs a Missouri marriage license after performing a marriage ceremony for April Dawn Breeden and her long-time partner Crystal Pearis Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, at City Hall in St. Louis. St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison overturned Missouri’s ban on gay marriage on Wednesday saying the law is unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Breaking ranks with rulings from other federal courts, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Ohio upheld gay marriage bans in four states, saying the courts aren’t the right place to legalize gay marriage. Here’s a look at key passages and how they compare to previous federal rulings:
1. ON CHILDREN
THE LATEST: The 6th Circuit ruling says that limiting unions to being only between a man and a woman is a view shared “not long ago by every society in the world, shared by most, if not all, of our ancestors, and shared still today by a significant number of the States.”
People may not need the government’s encouragement to have sex or “propagate the species,” it says, but they may need encouragement to “create and maintain stable relationships within which children may flourish.”
“Imagine a society without marriage. It does not take long to envision problems that might result from an absence of rules about how to handle the natural effects of male-female intercourse: children,” the opinion says. “May men and women follow their procreative urges wherever they take them? Who is responsible for the children that result?”
The judges acknowledge that gay and lesbian couples are equally capable of being in loving, committed relationships and effectively raising children. But those facts don’t mean states must suddenly believe gay marriage bans violate the constitution, the opinion says.
EARLIER RULINGS: The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit said the proposition that children suffer in same-sex households “reflects a crass and callous view of parental love and the parental bond that is not worthy of response. We reject it out of hand.”
The Denver-based 10th Circuit scoffed at the attempts by Utah and other states to use procreation as a justification for gay marriage bans. In a majority opinion written by Judge Carlos Lucero, the court pointed out that adoptive parents and opposite-sex couples who rely on assistance to get pregnant aren’t denied the right to marry. They said they don’t buy the contention that same-sex couples are inferior parents.
2. ON POLYGAMY
THE LATEST: The 6th Circuit ruling suggests making gay marriage legal could open the door for others such as polygamists to claim their unions also constitute legal marriage.
“There is no reason to think that three or four adults, whether gay, bisexual, or straight, lack the capacity to share love, affection, and commitment, or for that matter lack the capacity to be capable (and more plentiful) parents to boot,” it says. “If it is constitutionally irrational to stand by the man-woman definition of marriage, it must be constitutionally irrational to stand by the monogamous definition of marriage.”
EARLIER RULINGS: The 10th Circuit rejected the “slippery slope” argument that contends legalizing gay marriage would lead to acceptance for polygamy. “Unlike polygamous or incestuous marriages, the Supreme Court has explicitly extended constitutional protection to intimate same-sex relationships,” the ruling said.
3. ON STATES’ RIGHTS
THE LATEST: States should be able retain authority to define marriage as between a man and woman to ensure the incentive to stay together for their children remains, the 6th Circuit opinion says.
“That does not convict the States of irrationality, only of awareness of the biological reality that couples of the same sex do not have children in the same way as couples of opposite sexes and that couples of the same sex do not run the risk of unintended offspring,” it says.
EARLIER RULINGS: In its June ruling striking down Utah’s gay marriage ban, the 10th Circuit dismissed as “wholly illogical” the notion that states allowing gays to wed could somehow undermine traditional marriage. Judge Carlos Lucero wrote for the majority. “We may not deny them relief based on a mere preference that their arguments be settled elsewhere.”
4. ON THE SUPREME COURT
THE LATEST: The 6th Circuit makes note that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Oct. 6 to turn away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions does not end the debate on the constitutionality of gay marriage bans.
“A decision not to decide is a decision not to decide,” Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote.
EARLIER RULINGS: Other appeals courts have agreed that the high court has not given clear guidance on the issue. About the Supreme Court’s ruling in June 2013 that overturned part of a federal ban on gay marriage, the 10th Circuit wrote: “While Windsor is the only Supreme Court case concerning same-gender marriage, it simply did not decide the issue of state prohibitions on same-gender marriages.”
Appeals court upholds bans on same-sex marriage in four states
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld same-sex marriage bans in four states Thursday afternoon, creating a split among the nation’s appeals courts that almost surely means the Supreme Court must take up the issue of whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.
The panel ruled 2 to 1 that while gay marriage is almost inevitable, in the words of U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, it should be settled through the democratic process and not the judiciary. The decision overturned rulings in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky, and makes the 6th Circuit the first appeals court to uphold state bans since the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The Supreme Court began its term last month by declining to hear appeals of decisions that had struck down same-sex marriage bans, greatly expanding the number of states in which gays may marry.
BREAKING: Missouri Judge Rules for Marriage Equality
Denying Missouri’s gay couples the opportunity to marry is unconstitutional, a judge ruled this afternoon.
As a result, St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison said in his decision, marriage licenses can be issued throughout Missouri beginning today.
“The Court finds and declares that any same sex couple that satisfies all the requirements for marriage under Missouri law, other than being of different sexes, is legally entitled to a marriage license,” Burlison wrote.
He said that the Missouri Constitution violates the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Burlison’s ruling comes more than four months after four couples were married at St. Louis City Hall, even though there is a 10-year-old state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
The act of defiance, choreographed with the support of Mayor Francis Slay and then-Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter, led Attorney General Chris Koster to file an injunction preventing more marriage licenses from being issued to same-sex couples.
It’s the second major victory in the state for same-sex marriage. Last month, a Kansas City judge ruled that marriages of Missouri gay couples wed in states or countries where such relationships are legally recognized must be honored by their home state. The decision by Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs was the first by any judge affirming same-sex marriage in Missouri. That ruling affected more than 5,400 Missouri couples.
In both cases, an attorney from Koster’s office defended the state constitution. Koster supports same-sex marriage but said he has a legal responsibility to defend Missouri law. However, after losing the Kansas City case, Koster declined to appeal, saying the state is obligated to honor contracts entered into other states.
“Missouri’s future will be one of inclusion not exclusion,” Koster said. It was not immediately clear, however, whether Koster would appeal today’s ruling. Gay rights advocates expect Koster will ask the Missouri Supreme Court to make a final ruling.
“This is a positive move forward for loving same-sex couples in the City of St. Louis,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri. “It is also a win for families throughout Missouri as another discriminatory obstacle is lowered.”
St. Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert said issuing the four marriage licenses in June “pushed the envelope on behalf of families throughout the State of Missouri who now can enjoy the dignity, stability, and security of a legal marriage.”
In arguments before Burlison on Sept. 29, Calvert told the judge that marriage is a fundamental right of all citizens, but the constitutional amendment “categorically denies that right to an entire class of people.”
The landscape of same-sex marriage has changed dramatically since June 2013. That’s when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act. That ruling allowed gay couples who live in states where their marriages are legally recognized to receive the same federal benefits as married opposite-sex couples.
Then last month, the Supreme Court rejected appeals from five states seeking to preserve their bans. There are now 32 states plus the District of Columbia that issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, said Burlison’s ruling “is very much consistent with the way judges have been ruling around the country since the Supreme Court took up the issue.”
The ruling today marks 49 successful challenges to same-sex marriage laws across the country, compared to three losses, Solomon said.
“There has just been incredible momentum,” he said.
On Wednesday afternoon, St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Lilly Leyh and Sadie Pierce were first in line.
“Hi. I would like to buy a marriage,” Pierce said to a cashier at the recorder’s office.
Leyh and Pierce said they knew the judge had the case under consideration. When they heard about the ruling they rushed to St. Louis City Hall to get a license. Leyh, 25, and Pierce, 27, met while studying at Washington University.
“We were really hoping this would happen,” Leyh said.
The normally staid and quiet recorder’s office took on a celebratory tone as more couples arrived on late Wednesday afternoon. A banner reading “First in Marriage” and “#ShowMeMarriage” was hung on an office wall this afternoon. Mayor Francis Slay appeared alongside several other well-wishers to congratulate them.
“We acted because it was the right thing to do,” said Slay, who has gay siblings. “Cities are strengthened by their families. I want St. Louis to be the sort of diverse and open place in which all families – gay and straight – choose to live, be creative, and build businesses. This is a human rights issue, a quality of life issue, and an economics issue. Judge Burlison certainly got it right.”
Florida said issuing marriage licenses to gay couples was a moment she had been anticipating.
“We’ve been given the green light to begin issuing marriage licenses so all can marry the person they love.”
Court: Same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Wisconsin unconstitutional
A federal appeals court in Chicago has upheld lower court decisions that same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin are unconstitutional.
The swift decision comes just little more than a week after the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments at which lawyers for the two states often found themselves on the defensive amid tough questioning from the three-judge panel.
In a 40-page unanimous opinion, Judge Richard Posner wrote that the key arguments supporting the ban — that same-sex couples and their children don’t need marriage because same-sex couples can’t produce children — is “so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously.”
“To the extent that children are better off in families in which the parents are married, they are better off whether they are raised by their biological parents or by adoptive parents,” Posner wrote. “The discrimination against same-sex couples is irrational, and therefore unconstitutional.”
Officials in Indiana and Wisconsin – which were among a dwindling number of states that do not recognize gay marriage — had appealed lower federal court decisions that said the bans were unconstitutional and should be lifted. Their arguments turned largely on the needs of their states to regulate marriage as an institution, one linked directly to the ability to have children.
In Illinois, gay marriage has been legal since June.
In a statement, Paul Castillo, an attorney for Lambda Legal who represented the Indiana plaintiff, said the court “has affirmed the love and commitment our plaintiffs and thousands of same-sex couples in Indiana and Wisconsin have for each other.”
“Today’s ruling adds to the incredible legal momentum for marriage equality we are seeing in courts across the country; it is a joyous day for freedom and justice in the Midwest,” Castillo said.
Wisconsin’s attorney general issued a statement saying it would appeal the ruling and noting that no changes would take place while the issue remains in litigation.
“Attorney General Van Hollen has always believed that this case will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court,” the statement said. “The stay remains in effect until all appeals have been concluded.”
In his opinion, Posner urged the lawyers for the states to “draw up a plan of compliance and submit it” to the district judges for approval.
The strongly worded opinion lays out the historical discrimination against homosexuals in no uncertain terms, stating they were among the most “misunderstood, and discriminated-against minorities in the history of the world.”
The harm to homosexuals and their adopted children of being denied the right to marry is “considerable,” Posner said, and is a “source of continuing pain to the homosexual community.”
“Marriage confers respectability on a sexual relationship,” Posner wrote. “To exclude a couple from marriage is thus to deny it a coveted status.”
Known for his acerbic wit, Posner had particularly harsh words for the argument made by attorneys for Indiana that marriage is intended only for procreation and therefore only heterosexuals should benefit from the perks of matrimony, such as filing taxes jointly. The judge noted that infertile heterosexuals were free to marry – even first cousins.
“Why are they allowed to reap the benefits accorded marriages of fertile couples, and homosexuals are not?” Posner said. He said Indiana had “thus invented an insidious form of discrimination: favoring first cousins, provided they are not of the same sex, over homosexuals.”
Posner also said Indiana’s argument that marriage was a way to reign in sexual irresponsibility was completely backward.
“Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry,” Posner wrote. “Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure.”
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Court: Same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Wisconsin unconstitutional,”
Louisiana Gay Marriage Ban Upheld By Federal Judge
WASHINGTON — Bucking a nationwide trend, a federal judge in Louisiana upheld a state ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, writing that “any right to same-sex marriage is not yet so entrenched as to be fundamental” and that gay marriage was “inconceivable until very recently.”
“The Court is persuaded that a meaning of what is marriage that has endured in history for thousands of years, and prevails in a majority of states today, is not universally irrational on the constitutional grid,” U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, wrote.
Feldman noted that his was the only federal court to uphold a gay marriage ban since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last year.
“It would no doubt be celebrated to be in the company of the near-unanimity of the many other federal courts that have spoken to this pressing issue, if this Court were confident in the belief that those cases provide a correct guide,” Feldman wrote.
The court “hesitates with the notion that this state’s choice could only be inspired by hate and intolerance,” the judge wrote, holding that Louisiana “has a legitimate interest … whether obsolete in the opinion of some, or not, in the opinion of others … in linking children to an intact family formed by their two biological parents.”
Feldman said that “inconvenient questions persist” about the recognition of same-sex marriage and posed a few slippery-slope questions of his own.
“For example, must the states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child? May minors marry? Must marriage be limited to only two people? What about a transgender spouse? Is such a union same-gender or male-female? All such unions would undeniably be equally committed to love and caring for one another, just like the plaintiffs,” he wrote.
Source: Huffington Post, “Louisiana Gay Marriage Ban Upheld By Federal Judge,” by, Ryan J. Reilly, Posted: 09/03/2014 12:51 pm EDT Updated: 09/03/2014 1:59 pm EDT
North Carolina Attorney General Will Not Defend State’s Marriage Ban
Following today’s historic ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that he would stop defending the state’s marriage equality ban.
Today’s ruling applies to the entire Fourth Circuit, which includes North Carolina, Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. There are currently two cases in North Carolina challenging the state’s marriage ban.
In remarks earlier today, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said:
After reviewing the 4th Circuit decision and consulting with attorneys here, I have concluded that the State of North Carolina will not oppose the cases moving forward. In addition, the State of North Carolina will acknowledge the 4th Circuit opinion that marriage is a fundamental right and that our office believes that the judges are bound by this 4th Circuit decision.
In all these cases challenging state marriage laws, our office along with other attorneys general and state attorneys across the country have made about every legal argument imaginable. Since the US Supreme Court ruled in the Windsor case, all the federal courts have rejected these arguments each and every time. So it’s time for the State of North Carolina to stop making them.
Attorney General Cooper’s announcement follows a sweeping ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that determined that strict scrutiny review dictates that marriage bans are unconstitutional on the basis of both equal protection and due process.
Source: HRC Blog, “North Carolina Attorney General Will Not Defend State’s Marriage Ban,” July 28, 2014 by Hayley Miller, Digital Media Associate
Federal Court Issues Strict Scrutiny Marriage Ruling on Basis of Equality Protection, Due Process
In a historic first, today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a sweeping ruling affirming the February 2014 decision from U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in Bostic v. Schaefer that the amendment to the Virginia Constitution barring marriage for same-sex couples violates the U.S. Constitution, and further determining that strict scrutiny review dictates that marriage bans are unconstitutional on the basis of both equal protection and due process. In a 2-1 decision authored by Judge Henry F. Floyd and joined by Judge Roger L. Gregory, the court declared in its ruling that:
We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. 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.
On page 39 of the decision, the majority opinion confirmed that, “nder both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, interference with a fundamental right warrants the application of strict scrutiny.”
“The Fourth Circuit has affirmed that equality is not just a California value, or a New York value – it’s a fundamental American value,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin. “No state should have the right to enforce this type of discriminatory amendment that singles out thousands of loving couples for unfair treatment, simply because they are gay or lesbian. As we’ve seen with an undefeated string of federal court rulings over the last year from judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans, the U.S. Constitution is on the side of equality and justice for all Americans – not just some.”
Today’s ruling applies to the entire Fourth Circuit, which includes Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. This is the third appeals court ruling striking down state marriage bans in just one month. Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit struck down Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban. The Tenth Circuit issued a similar decision on June 25th in a case out of Utah, ruling that statutes or amendments to state constitutions banning marriage equality are unconstitutional. Both rulings were stayed and the Utah Attorney General has already indicated the state will appeal its decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The defendants in Virginia now have the option to request an enbanc appeal before the full bench of the Fourth Circuit, which decides whether or not to grant that request. They may also bypass an enbanc session and appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.In July of 2013, Tim Bostic and Tony London went to the Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk’s office to obtain a marriage license, but they were turned away because of Virginia’s ban on marriage equality. Soon after, the couple filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. They are joined in the case by Mary Townley and Carol Schall, whose legal California marriage isn’t recognized by their home state of Virginia. The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies on behalf of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER). Olson and Boies also successfully represented the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry challenging California’s Proposition 8 – a case that was ultimately heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In March of 2014, attorneys from Lambda Legal and the ACLU were permitted to intervene in the Bostic case on behalf of all Virginia’s same-sex couples, including their clients in another case challenging the state’s marriage ban – Harris v. Rainey.
A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit heard argument in this case on May 13, 2014. Judge Paul V. Niemeyer was appointed to the Fourth Circuit by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Judge Roger L. Gregory was first appointed by President Bill Clinton in 2000, and later re-appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001, making him the first African-American judge to serve on the Fourth Circuit. Judge Henry F. Floyd was appointed in 2011 by President Barack Obama.
There are over 70 court cases challenging discriminatory marriage bans across the country in 30 of the 31 states where such a ban exists, plus Puerto Rico. Cases from ten other states are currently pending before four federal appeals courts. The Sixth Circuit holds the distinction of being the only federal appeals court to date that will consider marriage cases from all states within its jurisdiction. In total, 33 states either have marriage equality or have seen state marriage bans struck down as unconstitutional in court. Since the Supreme Court’s historic marriage rulings last year, there have been 19 consecutive federal court decisions that bans on marriage equality are unconstitutional. These rulings have come from judges appointed by both Democrat and Republican presidents.
The Supreme Court is under no obligation as to which case or cases – if any – it choses to hear on appeal.
Cases pending before federal appeals courts:
- DeLeon v. Perry, Texas [Argument date at the Fifth Circuit not set]
- Tanco v. Haslam, Tennessee [Arguments at the Sixth Circuit set for August 6]
- Bourke vs. Beshear, Kentucky [Arguments at the Sixth Circuit set for August 6]
- Obergefell v. Kasich, Ohio [Arguments at the Sixth Circuit set for August 6]
- Henry v. Himes, Ohio [Arguments at the Sixth Circuit set for August 6]
- DeBoer v. Snyder, Michigan [Arguments at the Sixth Circuit set for August 6]
- Wolf v. Walker, Wisconsin [Arguments at the Seventh Circuit set for August 26]
- Baskin v. Bogan, Indiana [Arguments at the Seventh Circuit set for August 26]
- Sevcik v. Sandoval, Nevada [Argument at the Ninth Circuit set for September 8]
- Latta v. Otter, Idaho [Argument at the Ninth Circuit set for September]
- Jackson v. Abercrombie, Hawaii [Argument at the Ninth Circuit set for September 8]
- Burns v. Hickenlooper, Colorado [Argument date at the Tenth Circuit not set]
Cases petitioned or likely to be petitioned to the U.S. Supreme Court:
- Kitchen v. Herbert, Utah [Tenth Circuit struck down marriage ban June 25]
- Bishop v. United States, Oklahoma [Tenth Circuit struck down marriage ban July 18]
- Bostic v. Schaefer, Virginia [Fourth Circuit struck down marriage ban July 28]
Same-sex couples can legally marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia, while 31 states have a law or constitutional amendment restricting marriage to the union of one man and one woman. For more information on this and other marriage equality cases across the country, visit www.americansformarriageequality.org
Indiana Marriage Ban Struck Down by Federal Judge
Today U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young ruled against Indiana’s statute banning marriage equality, making the Hoosier State the latest to see such a ban struck down in court since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic marriage rulings last June. In Baskin v. Bogan, Lambda Legal and local private counsel sued the state on behalf of same-sex couples who argue that Indiana’s ban on marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution. In his ruling, Judge Young wrote, “In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage – not a same-sex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”
“Today’s ruling is further proof that bans on marriage equality like the one struck down in Indiana today cannot withstand judicial review,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) legal director Sarah Warbelow. “Where you live should never determine whether or not you can marry the person you love, and today we congratulate the plaintiffs and their attorneys with Lambda Legal, the law office of Barbara Baird, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP for bringing America one step closer to nationwide marriage equality.”
The judge did not immediately issue a stay on his ruling, and also instructed all state agencies to provide marital benefits to same-sex couples.
Recent poll results from the Washington Post and ABC News show that 50 percent of Americans believe that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. Additionally, 56 percent of Americans and 77 percent of those under the age of thirty support marriage rights for same-sex couples. Today’s results are the latest in an ever-expanding trend showing Americans moving inexorably in the direction of supporting equality for same-sex couples.
There are over 70 court cases challenging discriminatory marriage bans across the country in 30 states and Puerto Rico. So far five federal appeals courts are presiding over 11 marriage equality cases over the coming weeks and months. The Sixth Circuit holds the distinction of being the only federal appeals court to date that will consider marriage cases from all states within its jurisdiction. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic marriage rulings last year, no state marriage ban has survived a federal court challenge.
Same-sex couples can legally marry in nineteen states and the District of Columbia, while 31 states have a law or constitutional amendment restricting marriage to the union of one man and one woman. Learn more about this and other marriage equality cases at www.americansformarriageequality.org