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A look at same-sex marriage legal challenges across U.S.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
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Ted Richardson, AP (File)

Ted Richardson, AP (File)

State same-sex marriage bans have been falling around the country since June 2013, when the nation’s highest court ordered the federal government to recognize gay marriages. The remaining state bans all face legal challenges to overturn them.

Gay and lesbian couples can now marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia, with Oregon and Pennsylvania being the latest to join the list. The others are: Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Maine, Maryland, Washington, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Same-sex couples cannot wed in the rest of the states yet.

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Utah’s ban is unconstitutional, but the judges put the ruling on hold so it could be appealed. Meanwhile, 12 state and federal appeals courts are reviewing pro-gay marriage rulings that have come in the past year. Those rulings all are on hold pending appellate court decisions.

Here’s a look at where things stand with other legal challenges across the country:

ARKANSAS

A state judge in Arkansas’ largest county struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, saying the state has “no rational reason” for preventing gay couples from marrying. The state Supreme Court brought the marriages to a halt and is weighing state officials’ appeal.

IDAHO

State officials announced they will appeal a decision from a federal judge overturning the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The appeal goes to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

INDIANA

A federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday in a ruling that immediately allowed gay couples to wed. In a separate case, state attorneys have asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to review a federal judge’s recent order requiring Indiana to recognize the out-of-state marriage of a lesbian couple in which one woman is terminally ill. That ruling applies just to one couple – not to others who were legally wed elsewhere and are seeking to have Indiana recognize their marriages.

KENTUCKY

After a federal judge ordered Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, attorney general Jack Conway said he would not defend the state’s law. But, the state has hired outside attorneys to handle the case and is appealing to 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 6 to listen to arguments on gay marriage laws in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee in a single session.

MICHIGAN

The 6th Circuit is reviewing Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban that was overturned by a federal judge in March following a rare trial that mostly focused on the impact of same-sex parenting on children.

NEVADA

Eight gay couples are challenging Nevada’s voter-approved 2002 ban that was upheld by a federal judge in 2012. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has scheduled arguments for September. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is refusing to defend the ban.

OHIO:

The 6th Circuit appeals court is reviewing two gay marriage cases from Ohio. The first involves recognizing gay marriages on death certificates, and the second involves an order for Ohio to recognize all out-of-state marriages.

TENNESSEE

A federal judge ordered the state to recognize three same-sex couples’ marriages while their lawsuit against the state works through the courts. Tennessee officials are appealing the preliminary injunction to the 6th Circuit.

TEXAS

A federal judge declared the state’s ban unconstitutional, issuing a preliminary injunction. The state is appealing to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans.

UTAH and OKLAHOMA

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Wednesday ruled that Utah must allow gay couples to marry, finding the Constitution protects same-sex relationships. The court’s ruling on Oklahoma’s ban is expected soon. Utah and Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly passed the bans in 2004.

WISCONSIN

A federal judge in Madison struck down the state’s ban in June, leading to a flurry of gay and lesbian marriages across the state as more than half of the county clerks began issuing licenses. The judge didn’t order county clerks to begin issuing licenses or block them from handing them out, leaving it to the individual clerks’ discretion. The Wisconsin attorney general plans to appeal the ruling to 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

VIRGINIA

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond heard arguments In May about Virginia’s overturned ban and is expected to rule soon. Virginia’s attorney general, Mark Herring, is one of seven in the country who has refused to defend a state gay marriage ban. A county clerk who was sued in Virginia is defending the ban.

ELSEWHERE

Other states with court cases demanding recognition of gay marriage are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Most lawsuits challenge same-sex marriage bans or ask states to recognize gay marriages done in other states.

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