The U.S. Supreme Court was asked Monday to consider two additional cases challenging state bans on same-sex marriage, this time in litigation coming out of Michigan and Kentucky.
Attorneys for same-sex couples challenging Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage asked the high court to address the question raised by the case in a petition filed Monday: “Whether a state violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by denying same- sex couples the right to marry.” Attorneys for the case challenging Kentucky’s marriage ban asked the court to address a similar question, and whether the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment are violated by refusing to recognize legal marriages between individuals of the same sex performed in other jurisdictions.
In a 2-1 decision handed down Nov. 6, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld same-sex marriages bans in four states — Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee — breaking with other federal appeals courts that have considered the issue. Lawyers for the cases in Ohio and Tennessee filed their petitions for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court on Friday.
The petition filed in the Michigan case argues that the question of a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry is “highly unlikely” to be resolved without intervention by the Supreme Court. “Rather, considering the issue now would substantially promote judicial economy, as there are currently twenty-six cases pending in lower federal courts presenting issues that would be resolved or substantially advanced by the Court in this case,” the petition continues.
As noted in the Michigan petition, GLAD’s Mary Bonauto, who was lead counsel in the 2004 case that legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, has joined the legal team challenging Michigan’s marriage ban.
The Supreme Court is not required to take any of the cases, nor are they restricted to a particular timeframe. However, many believe the split among the circuits created by the 6th Circuit’s decision to uphold same-sex marriage bans in four states will push the Supreme Court to consider at least one of the cases. For the Supreme Court to hear a case it requires at least four justices to agree. The breakdown of those votes are not released by the court.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the petition filed in the Kentucky case.
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