The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to
hear appeals in cases challenging gay marriage bans in four states.
All four cases are out of the Sixth
Circuit, the lone appeals court to uphold such bans since the high
court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act
(DOMA) in June, 2013.
The Cincinnati, Ohio-based Sixth
Circuit in November upheld bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and
Justices earlier this week declined to
hear a fifth case challenging Louisiana's ban. A federal judge
upheld the ban in September and an appeal is currently before the
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The high court consolidated the four
cases and limited arguments to two
questions: “Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to
license a marriage between two people of the same sex?” and “Does
the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage
between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully
licensed and performed out-of-state?”
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to
Marry, called the announcement the beginning of the last chapter in
the fight for equal marriage rights.
“The Supreme Court's decision today
begins what we hope will be the last chapter in our campaign to win
marriage nationwide – and it's time,” said Wofson in a statement.
“Freedom to Marry's national strategy has been to build a critical
mass of marriage states and critical mass of support for ending
marriage discrimination, and after a long journey and much debate,
America is ready for the freedom to marry. But couples are still
discriminated against in 14 states, and the patchwork of
discrimination harms families and businesses throughout the country.
We will keep working hard to underscore the urgency of the Supreme
Court's bringing the country to national resolution, so that by June,
all Americans share in the freedom to marry and our country stands on
the right side of history.”
Oral arguments in the first question
are limited to 90 minutes and to 60 minutes in the second question.
Briefing is to be completed by April
provided by Equality Case Files.)