The Supreme Court of the United States last week announced it would take up several marriage-equality cases this session — a move that will ideally settle the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
Essentially, the justices will determine if the U.S. Constitution allows states to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.
Cases will be heard from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, which all fall under the jurisdiction of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In November, the Sixth Circuit became the only appellate court to overturn a lower district court’s ruling striking down the states’ marriage bans. The plaintiffs in these cases decided to appeal to the Supreme Court.
“Our lawyers stand ready to make our case before the Supreme Court to end discriminatory marriage laws once and for all,” said Kevin Cathcart, executive director for Lambda Legal, which is part of the team representing the plaintiffs in the Ohio case. “Every day that one of these bans remains on the books anywhere in the country is another day of harm and pain for thousands of families.”
Equality Pennsylvania executive director Ted Martin cited timing as a key element.
“I think the Supreme Court has waited just long enough to get the right cases in front of them, and they waited until there were a good number of cases already settled in favor of marriage equality,” he said. “The timing is good.”
Martin is optimistic of the outcome, but said an unfavorable decision would be a big step backwards.
“The justices are not insulated from the rest of the world; they have a good sense of things,” Martin said. “A decision to uphold the bans would only strengthen the crazy patchwork quilt of protections from state to state and be counterintuitive to their previous ruling.”
To date, four federal circuit courts and dozens of federal district courts have ruled such bans unconstitutional.
Oral arguments will be held in April, with a decision expected by the end of June.