Summary of gay marriage cases before appeals court

Print
Email
|

Associated Press

Posted on August 6, 2014 at 8:01 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 6 at 1:31 PM

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in six gay marriage fights from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee on Wednesday, setting the stage for one ruling. Each case deals with whether statewide gay marriage bans violate the Constitution. A look at the cases:

___

KENTUCKY

Kentucky has two cases, including a lawsuit filed by three couples last year seeking to have their marriages recognized by the state.

In July, a federal judge agreed with the couples, striking down the state's ban on recognizing out-of-state marriages. That ruling is on hold pending appeal.

One couple, Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon, said that if they win, their first move will be to get Bourke listed as the legal parent of their two children. Kentucky recognizes only DeLeon as their parent, since the couple's 2004 marriage in Canada is not valid in the state.

Bourke said the couple endured legal wrangling and attorney expenses just to "mimic a marital relationship."

In the other case, the same judge also struck down Kentucky's ban on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That ruling is also on hold.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear hired private attorneys to appeal his state's decision after Attorney General Jack Conway called a tearful news conference to announce he would not appeal the ruling, saying that doing so would be "defending discrimination."

___

MICHIGAN

Michigan's gay marriage fight began when a lesbian couple sued to change a state law that bars them from jointly adopting their three children.

Though the case was narrowly focused at first, it changed significantly when a judge noted that the joint adopting ban was related to Michigan's bans on gay marriage. So the couple, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, of suburban Detroit, expanded their lawsuit, and both gay marriage bans were struck down in March.

"It's still about our kids," DeBoer said of the couple's 4-year-old girl and 5-year-old boy. "We went forward with fighting the marriage ban because it's the only way to protect our kids."

Rowse and DeBoer are waiting to marry until the legal process ends, though more than 300 gay and lesbian Michigan couples were wed before the appeals court ordered a stay.

Gov. Rick Snyder has said Michigan won't recognize those marriages because the ban is still the law. But U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder extended those couples federal recognition, saying the families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their benefits.

___

OHIO

Ohio's two cases involve rights for gay and lesbian couples at the beginning of life and at the end. One case involves two gay men whose spouses were dying. They sued to win the right to be listed as the surviving spouses on their husbands' death certificates and for their spouses to be listed as having been married.

A federal judge ruled in their favor, though one of the surviving spouses, Jim Obergefell, said that he's afraid the 6th Circuit will overturn the ruling and that Ohio will change the death certificate to list his husband, John Arthur, as single.

"It scares the daylights out of me to think that the state could come back and wipe that off John's death certificate," Obergefell said. "The last legal record of his life would be wrong, and it'd be a slap in the face."

Ohio's attorney general has said the state's voters decided in 2004 that marriage is between a man and a woman and that he'll continue to defend the ban.

In a separate lawsuit, three lesbian couples in Ohio and one gay couple living in New York sued to have both spouses listed on their children's birth certificates. One woman in each Ohio couple was pregnant and gave birth this summer, while the New York couple adopted an Ohio child.

In a ruling, Ohio was ordered to list both spouses of each couple on their children's birth certificates. The judge also issued a broader ruling in the case, ordering Ohio to recognize all gay marriages performed legally in other states. That's on hold pending appeal.

___

TENNESSEE

Tennessee's case only applies to the marriages of three same-sex couples who sued to be recognized on their children's birth certificates.

The couples say they want their children to have the same protections as children of heterosexual couples.

"It means that we don't need to worry about things that are taken for granted by families that are not of the same sex, such as parental rights," said plaintiff Valeria Tanco, the mother of 4-month-old Emilia. She said she worries about her daughter if something were to happen to Tanco herself, the girl's birth mother.

"You don't really have to think about that when you're married in a straight couple relationship," Tanco said.

In March, a federal judge in Tennessee issued an injunction against the state from enforcing the gay marriage ban against the three couples.

A spokesman for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has said the governor was disappointed in the ruling, saying the state's voters passed a statewide ban in 2006.

The lawsuit does not challenge laws barring same-sex marriage in Tennessee, only those that prohibit recognizing such marriages performed in other states.

___

Associated Press writers Amanda Lee Myers in Cincinnati, Ed White in Detroit, Lucas L. Johnson II in Nashville, Tennessee, and Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

Print
Email
|