Updated: 7:15 p.m. EDT
The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday on six same-sex 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 them:
Kentucky has two cases, including a lawsuit filed by three couples last year seeking to have their marriages recognized by the state.
Plaintiff’s attorney Laura Landenwich told the judges that Kentucky’s law doesn’t have a rational purpose and discriminates against same-sex couples. Waiting for voters to change the law is not an option, Landenwich said.
“There is a limit to the democratic process,” Landenwich said. “The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the minority from the will of the majority in a democratic society.”
Leigh Latherow, hired by Gov. Steve Beshear after Attorney General Jack Conway declined to appeal the ruling, said the state benefits from same-sex couples having children.
“Kentucky didn’t take away any right that had already been given,” Latherow said.
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.
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.
The state’s solicitor general, Aaron Lindstrom, said that any change in the state’s ban on same-sex marriage should come through the political process.
“The most basic right we have as a people is to decide public policy questions on our own,” he said.
Fundamental constitutional rights shouldn’t be decided in popular votes, countered attorney Carole Stanyar, who represents the plaintiffs in that case.
“The Michigan marriage amendment gutted the democratic process,” she said.
The case is DeBoer v. Snyder.
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