In a move that has led to validation and frustration on both sides of the fence, a federal appeals court Thursday upheld bans on same-sex marriage in four states.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals panel, based in Cincinnati, heard arguments on gay marriage restrictions in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan on August 6, splitting 2-1. This ruling has now created a division among federal appeals courts, dramatically increasing the chance that the Supreme Court will hear the issue, Fox News reported.
The ruling found that states have the right to set their own rules for marriage, following victories in more than 20 courts for same-sex marriage supporters since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act last year.
Until Thursday, no federal appeals court had upheld a law banning gay marriage since the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling that struck down DOMA’s denial of federal benefits for married same-sex couples, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In October, the Supreme Court passed up the opportunity to review several rulings striking down marriage bans in many states, in part because there was no conflict in the courts that needed to be resolved. Disagreement between federal appeals courts is the primary reason the Supreme Court steps in.
Judge Jeffrey Sutton, who wrote for the majority, said the question was best answered by statehouses, not courts.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Jeffrey Sutton” author_title=”Sixth Circuit Federal Judge”]
Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue.
Same-sex couples who challenged the laws in the four states subject to the ruling can ask the full 6th Circuit court to re-hear the cases, or they may go directly to the Supreme Court, NBC reported.
Plantiffs in the case include a Cincinnati man who wants his late husband listed as married on his death certificate so they can be buried in a family-only plot, as well as a Tennessee couple who want to be listed together on their daughter’s birth certificate.