Appeals court upholds gay marriage bans, reversing trend

Thu Nov 6, 2014 7:48pm EST
 
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By Fiona Ortiz and Lawrence Hurley

(Reuters) - 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 marriage. 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 Republican President George W. Bush, wrote the majority decision and said plaintiffs favoring same-sex marriage 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 own impact on gay and lesbian couples.   Continued...

 
Mike Woods, 28, and Brandon Parsons, 30, embrace on the Pennsylvania State Capital steps following a rally with gay rights supporters after a ruling struck down a ban on same sex marriage in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Makela