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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 8 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 32
Summary of same-sex marriage cases before appeals court
Section One
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Summary of same-sex marriage cases before appeals court

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On August 6, three Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges heard arguments in six Gay marriage fights from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, setting the stage for one ruling.

Each case deals with whether statewide same-sex marriage bans violate the Constitution.

Seattle Gay News takes a look at each case:

KENTUCKY
Kentucky has two cases by couples seeking to have their marriages recognized by the state.

In July, a federal judge agreed with three couples, striking down the state's ban on recognizing out-of-state marriages. That ruling is on hold pending appeal.

Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon, one of the couples listed in the lawsuit, said that if they win, their first move will be to get Bourke listed as the legal parent of their two children. Currently, Kentucky recognizes only DeLeon as their parent, since the couple's 2004 marriage in Canada is not recognized by the state.

In the other case, the same judge also struck down Kentucky's ban on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That ruling is also on hold.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear hired private attorneys to appeal his state's decision after Attorney General Jack Conway called a tearful news conference to announce he would not appeal the ruling, saying that doing so would be 'defending discrimination.'

MICHIGAN
Michigan's same-sex marriage fight began when a Lesbian couple sued to change a state law that bars them from jointly adopting their three children.

Though the case changed considerably when a judge noted that the joint adopting ban was related to Michigan's bans on same-sex marriage allowing the couple, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, to expand their lawsuit; and both Gay marriage bans were struck down in March.

Rowse and DeBoer are waiting to marry until the legal process ends, though more than 300 same-sex Michigan couples were wed before the appeals court ordered a stay.

Governor Rick Snyder has said Michigan won't recognize those marriages because the ban is still the law. But U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder extended those couples federal recognition, saying the families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their benefits.

OHIO
According to the Associated Press, Ohio's two cases involve rights for Gay and Lesbian couples at the beginning of life and at the end.

One case involves two Gay men whose spouses were dying. They sued to win the right to be listed as the surviving spouses on their husbands' death certificates and for their spouses to be listed as having been married.

A federal judge ruled in their favor. However, Jim Obergefell, one of the surviving spouses, said that he's fearful the 6th Circuit will overturn the ruling and that Ohio will change the death certificate to list his husband, John Arthur, as single.

'It scares the daylights out of me to think that the state could come back and wipe that off John's death certificate,' Obergefell said. 'The last legal record of his life would be wrong, and it'd be a slap in the face.'

TENNESSEE
Tennessee's case applies to the marriages of three same-sex couples who sued to be recognized on their children's birth certificates.

Tennessee Associate Solicitor Joseph Whalen told the judges that the state's law doesn't discriminate because it bars recognition of any marriage not recognized by state law, rather than singling out same-sex couples. Instead, Whalen said, Tennessee's law ensures that children are born into a stable family environment.

'The Constitution does not demand Tennessee recognize same-sex marriage,' Whalen said.

Plaintiff's attorney Bill Harbison said when the law was enacted in 2006, Gays and Lesbians weren't stepping up for their rights. That has since changed, but Tennessee hasn't, he said.

'It's as if Tennessee wants to wall itself off from the reality that Gay and Lesbian people are marrying,' Harbison said.

In March, a federal judge in Tennessee issued an injunction against the state from enforcing the Gay marriage ban against the three couples.

The lawsuit does not challenge laws barring same-sex marriage in Tennessee, only those that prohibit recognizing such marriages performed in other states.

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