Gay marriage arguments flooding federal courts

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 5, 2014 at 9:13 pm •  Published: August 5, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) — Federal appeals courts soon will hear arguments in gay marriage fights from nine states, part of a slew of cases putting pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a final verdict.

If the appeals judges continue the unbroken eight-month streak of rulings in favor of gay marriage, that could make it easier for the nation's highest court to come down on the side of supporters.

If even one ruling goes against them in the four courts taking up the issue in the coming weeks, it would create a divide that the Supreme Court also could find difficult to resist settling.

"We're going to be racking up more courts of appeals decisions, and every one we get puts more pressure on the Supreme Court to weigh in," said Douglas NeJaime, a law professor at the University of California-Irvine. "It's very likely the Supreme Court ultimately settles this question. Given how quickly things have moved, it's hard for the court to avoid this in the short term."

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will hear arguments from attorneys in six cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, all Wednesday, the most of any federal appeals court so far.

Hundreds of gay marriage supporters rallied at a park near Cincinnati's riverfront on the eve of Wednesday's arguments, cheering and clapping as speakers urged equality for all.

Wearing T-shirts and toting signs calling for the freedom to marry, many said they just want to be treated like everyone else.

"We are the same as everyone else, and we have dreams like everyone else," said Barry Schlaile, 60, of Kettering, Ohio, and New Orleans. He and his longtime partner, 70-year-old David Donovan, stressed their point with signs saying: "End our 37-year-engagement at the altar."

Mason Gersh, a 19-year-old college student from Louisville, Kentucky, says he is hopeful that his state's ban will be overturned.

"But the fight for equality doesn't end with marriage," said Gersh, who is gay. "There is also discrimination in areas like employment and housing, and there is much more that needs to be done."

Many of those at Tuesday's rally said they planned to rally outside the courthouse on Wednesday.

Arguments similar to those set to be heard Wednesday will take place Aug. 26 in the 7th Circuit in Chicago, for bans in Wisconsin and Indiana, and for Sept. 8 in the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, for bans in Idaho and Nevada. The 5th Circuit in New Orleans is expected to soon set a date to hear arguments on Texas' ban.

The flurry of arguments means an upcoming spate of rulings, possibly all issued this autumn, that could profoundly alter the nation's marriage laws.

If the four federal circuit appeals courts rule in favor of gay marriage, then nine states with pending appeals stand to have their bans stricken down altogether or ordered to recognize out-of-state gay marriages: Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Idaho and Nevada, though the decisions likely would be put on hold for a Supreme Court ruling.

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