Sixth Circuit Hears Marriage Equality Cases From Four States

Written by scott on August 7th, 2014

Sixth Circuit

The Sixth Circuit heard marriage equality cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee yesterday.

Freedom to Marry has a nice collection of quotes from the decisions that got the cases here:

“Once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot take your marriage away, because the right t remain married is properly recognized as a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.” –Obergefell v. Wymyslo ruling, Ohio

“No one has offered any evidence that recognizing same-sex marriages will harm opposite-sex marriages, individually or collectively. One’s belief to the contrary, however sincerely held, cannot alone justify denying a selected group their constitutional rights.” Bourke v. Beshear ruling, Kentucky

“In attempting to define this case as a challenge to “the will of the people,” state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people. Today’s decision affirms the enduring principle that regardless of who finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.” Deboer v Snyder ruling, Michigan

Joe.My.God also has a couple videos from the marriage equality rally before the hearing:

During the hearing, at least one of the judges, Martha Daughtrey, openly mocked Mark Regnerus, author of a discredited study on gay parenting (from a reporter’s tweet and notes):

“Even the Texas professor’s University doesn’t believe anything this man says… What harm comes? It doesn’t look like the sky has fallen in other cases.”

Judge Daughtrey also pressed a Michigan Attorney on the comparison between bans on same sex marriage and interracial marriage.

She also pressed him to differentiate between banning same-sex marriage and prohibiting interracial marriage, which was prevalent in many states until a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia. “That was a vote by the people of many states against interracial marriage,” she said. Lindstrom countered that race doesn’t play a role in the fundamental definition of marriage.

The two GOP appointees on the panel appeared to give some weight to the “will of the people” argument, while the Democratic appointee appeared to clearly favor marriage equality:

Republican appointee Judge Jeffrey Sutton repeatedly questioned whether voters rather than courts should decide whether gay marriage is legal. Sutton is respected within legal circles and his views could help sway the five conservative members of the Supreme Court. The panel’s sole Democratic appointee, Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, was the only member who clearly signaled support for plaintiffs seeking recognition for gay marriage. The third judge, Deborah Cook, gave fewer indications of where she stood. But like Sutton, Cook indicated that deference should be given to voters.

The New York Times has their own take on the three judges:

Judge Sutton did suggest that the arguments offered against marriage equality were weak, saying that marriage bans would be hard to defend if subjected to the intense “heightened scrutiny” that courts apply when fundamental civil rights are at stake. But he also wondered whether legal precedents in the Sixth Circuit and the Supreme Court should prevent the panel from declaring same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right deserving court intervention.

In often caustic questions, Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, the Clinton appointee, left no doubt where she stood. When the lawyer for Michigan said that the courts should not tamper with an institution as deeply rooted as marriage, she replied that bans on interracial marriage were also deeply rooted before the Supreme Court found them unconstitutional. “That was the law across a huge swath of the Southern states,” she said.

The third judge, Deborah L. Cook, another Bush appointee, spoke little during the unusual proceeding in which one state’s case followed another without any breaks. But she seemed to favor the right of states to ban same-sex marriage.

The audio files for the hearings have now been posted.

So now we wait for a few months for the rulings. Yes, two judges were GOP appointees, but there are a number of GOP-appointed judges among those who have ruled for marriage equality over the last year.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

 

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