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US Supreme Court Next Stop After Four State Marriage Bans Upheld?

Jon Queally

Legal challenges to discriminatory laws which refuse same-sex couples the right to marry were rejected by a federal court on Thursday, meaning such restrictions in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee will likely remain in place until the U.S. Supreme Court takes on the cases.

The ruling by the conservative-leaning Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati may not have been a surprise, but the news was received as a setback from marriage equality advocates who have won a series of court victories in recent years.

In response, rights groups have vowed to press the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the cases, and make a comprehensive ruling on marriage equality, as soon as possible.

"The [court's] decision flies in the face of a nearly unanimous string of 49 rulings issued since June 2013 in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples," said Lily Hiott-Millis from Freedom to Marry, in a statement. "Just three lower court rulings in the past year and a half have upheld marriage discrimination."

According to The Guardian:

Thursday’s decision makes it more likely that the US supreme court will take up the issue, due to conflicting rulings among appeals courts.

Since the supreme court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last year, federal courts had issued a string of rulings in favor of same-sex marriage. Campaigners on both sides have asked the supreme court to pick up the issue and make a final decision on its constitutionality.

In early October, however, the supreme court declined to hear seven cases arising from lower appeals courts, a decision that resulted in a significant expansion of same-sex marriage across the US. It is now legal in 32 states.

ACLU attorney Chase Strangio, who works for the group's Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, described the 6th Circuit ruling as "an outlier that's incompatible with the 50 other rulings that uphold fairness for all families."

"We believe it’s wholly unconstitutional to deny same sex couples and their families access to the rights and respect that all other families receive," Strangio continued. "We will be filing for Supreme Court review right away and hope that through this deeply disappointing ruling we will be able to bring a uniform rule of equality to the entire country."


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