SCOTUS will hear same-sex marriage ban challenges from Michigan, other states

On Jan. 16, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of a federal appeals court ruling that upheld bans in Michigan and three states on the freedom to marry and recognition of marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 6, 2014 to uphold four bans in Mich., Tenn., Ky., and Ohio on the freedom to marry and the recognition of legal marriages between same-sex couples from other jurisdictions. It is the only federal circuit court after the Supreme Court’s 2013 Windsor ruling to uphold such bans.

The announcement sets the stage for final resolution of the debate about marriage equality  nationwide.

“This has been a tremendous week for marriage equality. Like a growing majority of Americans, we believe it is past  time for our nation to extend freedom and equality to all families,” said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the LGBT Project at the ACLU of Michigan. “Every day that we’ve had to endure this senseless patchwork of state laws is one less day that loving LGBT couples have had to enjoy the freedom to marry, one less day they’ve had to offer the same protections to their children that others enjoy.”

The decision comes one day after a federal judge ruled in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Michigan, Caspar v. Snyder, that the state must recognize the legal marriages of 300 same-sex couples wed last spring in the state after a federal decision struck down Michigan’s ban on marriage equality in Deboer v. Snyder and before an appellate court stayed the decision against the ban.

The ACLU and Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic are co-counsel in the two Kentucky cases, Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear, brought by lawyers at Clay Daniel Walton & Adams and the Fauver Law Office. These cases challenge the anti-marriage laws on the ground that they violate due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution. ACLU along with Lambda Legal and Gerhardstein & Branch are also co-counsel in the Ohio case, Obergefell, et al v. Hodges.

Said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bi- sexual Transgender/HIV Project. “The country is ready for a national solution that treats lesbian and gay couples fairly.”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette commented on the Supreme Court’s granting certiorari in Deboer v. Snyder, “This case involves people of good will, sincerely motivated, on both sides. All of Michigan’s voters, as well as the citizens of our nation, will be well served by the court’s decision to decide this case and resolve such an important issue.

“Therefore, I am pleased that the Supreme Court has chosen to review this case.”