Federal Marriage Case Decisions Outside Michigan In Circuit Court of Appeals

Researched by Jay Kaplan, Attorney ACLU, Michigan

1 The recent decision in Texas: Judge Orlando Garcia held that Texas' prohibition on same-sex marriage violates equal protection and due process guaranteed under the constitution. He finds the rationale for denying the fundamental right to marry unpersuasive and that it demeans the dignity of same-sex couples for no legitimate reason. He granted a preliminary injunction enjoining the State from enforcing the ban, but also issued a stay on his decision pending an appeal. The State of Texas announced that it would immediately appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

2 Kentucky: Federal district court Judge John Heyburn concludes that Kentucky's laws denying recognition of valid marriages between same-sex couples in other jurisdictions violates equal protection. Judge may later rule on the issue of the right to marry in Kentucky. On Mar. 4, Attorney General Jack Conway of Kentucky said he will not appeal the order.

3 Virginia: U..S District Judge Arenda Wright struck down Virginia's marriage ban as denying gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental right to choose who to marry. The government interests of perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others "must yield to this country's cherished protections that ensure the exercise of private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family." Decision was stayed pending an appeal which will be before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

4 Oklahoma: U.S. District Judge Terence Kern struck down Oklahoma's ban as violating equal protection, stating that even if a majority decided to deny the same right to same-sex couples, "equal protection is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights." Decision stayed, pending an appeal in the 10th Circuit.

5 Utah: U.S. District Judge Judge Robert Shelby ruled the State's denial of the right to marry denies same-sex couples their rights to due process and equal protection. He did not issue a stay and during an almost three week period, same-sex couples were married in Utah. A 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel refused to grant a stay and the matter was appealed to the United States Supreme Court, where a majority granted a stay. Utah's governor and Attorney General indicated that the State would not recognize those marriages granted during this window period (although the federal government would) and the ACLU has sued in federal court for recognition of those marriages granted before the stay.

6 Ohio: a narrower ruling by Judge Timothy Black ordered the State of Ohio to recognize valid out of state marriages between same-sex couples on Ohio death certificates. Ohio's refusal to do so because of its laws prohibiting same-sex couples to marry and to have their out of state marriages recognized violate equal protection. State has appealed matter to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Follow Cases Online

For comprehensive information on the many different marriage cases see Equality on Trial at http://equalityontrial.com/


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