On March 27 couples in Michigan married in 4 counties until a stay was issued. Seen here are couples waiting to receive their official marriage licenses after Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown officiated in over 140 of the 315 marriages performed in the state that day. BTL Photo: Andrew Potter

6th Circuit To Hear Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky And Tennessee Cases Aug. 6


The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has set Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. as the single day to hear arguments in the four marriage equality cases pending before the court, setting up a historic day for each of the four states in the circuit which includes Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. A court filing June 16 says that arguments are planned before a three-judge panel at the Cincinnati-based court at 1 p.m. The filing notes, however, that the arguments could be canceled if the judges decide briefs and the court records are enough for a decision.

The court set 30 minutes for each side in the Michigan and Ohio cases, but 15 minutes for each side in the Tennessee and Kentucky cases.

Attorneys representing same-sex couples in the cases say they assume the same three-judge panel will hear arguments for each of the lawsuits for the sake of consistency. The names of the judges on the panel will be announced shortly before arguments.

In Michigan, more than 300 same-sex couples were married in March after a Detroit federal judge said Michigan's 2004 voter-approved ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier suspended the decision while the appeal is pending.

The only case among the four that is outright seeking the right for same-sex couples to marry is the Michigan case, DeBoer v. Snyder. The Tennessee case, Tanco v. Haslam, was filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and seeks state recognition for same-sex couples married elsewhere. The same is true for the Kentucky case, Bourke v. Beshear, but that case was later amended at the district court to seek outright marriage equality.

One Ohio case, Obergefell v. Himes, is seeking the same-sex marriage recognition rights for the purposes of death certificates; the other, Henry v. Himes, is related to birth certificates, but in that case the district judge ruled against the state's marriage ban for all purposes of recognition.


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