Federal appeals court in Cincinnati upholds state bans on gay marriages
A federal appeals court on Thursday bucked a recent trend of pro-gay marriage decisions by upholding state bans or restrictions in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, pressuring the Supreme Court to take up the issue.
The 2-1 ruling by the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is the first ruling by a federal appeals court that upholds bans on same-sex unions. Gay marriage advocates said they would immediately seek U.S. Supreme Court review.
The high court, if it agrees to hear the case, could potentially issue a decision by the end of June saying once and for all whether any states can ban gay marriage.
In Thursday’s ruling, the appeals court upheld gay marriage bans in Kentucky and Michigan. It also ruled that Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky are not required to recognize gay marriages that take place in other states.
Judge Jeffrey Sutton, appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote the majority decision and said plaintiffs favoring same-sex unions had not made the case why courts should intervene instead of leaving the matter to state legislatures.
“When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers,” he wrote.
It is preferable, he added, that courts defer to “the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories.”
Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, the three-judge panel’s lone Democratic appointee, in a dissenting opinion criticized the majority’s ruling, saying it read like “an engrossing TED Talk” neglectful of its impact on gay and lesbian couples.
The ruling is likely to put the spotlight back on the Supreme Court. It had been expected to take up the gay marriage issue in October but in a surprise move rejected seven cases.