Court to Consider 5 Gay Marriage Cases at Once
A federal appeals court will hear arguments in gay marriage fights in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee in a single session, setting the stage for historic rulings in each state.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, scheduled arguments in five cases from the four states for Aug. 6. Though the cases are unique, each deals with whether statewide gay marriage bans violate the Constitution.
"I think the way the court’s approaching it is significant," said Al Gerhardstein, a Cincinnati civil rights attorney who represents plaintiffs in two Ohio cases that will go before the appeals court. "They see the need to do some basic rulings on core principals cutting across all these state lines. It’s very exciting."
Louisville attorney Dawn Elliott, who represents eight plaintiffs in the Kentucky case, said she and her co-counsel plan to make their arguments personal, focusing on the people affected by the ruling.
"Our plaintiffs are all planning on being there, because it’s harder to say no to somebody when you’re looking at them, to say, ’No your marriage is not valid because you’re gay,’" said Elliott’s co-counsel, Shannon Fauver.
The 6th Circuit is the third federal appeals court to weigh recent challenges to state gay marriage bans, though the first to consider cases in several states at the same time. Arguments were held in the 4th Circuit in Virginia in May and the 10th Circuit in Denver in April. Rulings are expected soon.
In Cincinnati, a three-judge panel will hear arguments in each case one at a time. It’s unclear whether it will issue a large ruling encompassing all the cases or separate ones. Any losing side could appeal the circuit court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.