Supreme Court Will Hear Cases Challenging Ban on Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Michigan and Three Other States

January 16, 2015

DETROIT – The U.S. Supreme Court granted review of a federal appeals court ruling that upheld bans in Michigan and three states on the freedom to marry and recognition of marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states. The others states whose petitions were granted review are Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. Today’s announcement sets the stage for final resolution of the debate about marriage equality for same-sex couples nationwide.

“This has been a tremendous week for marriage equality. Like a growing majority of Americans, we believe it is past time for our nation to extend freedom and equality to all families. We’re encouraged that the Supreme Court will address this issue once and for all,” said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the LGBT Project at the ACLU of Michigan. “Every day that we’ve had to endure this senseless patchwork of state laws is one less day that loving LGBT couples have had to enjoy the freedom to marry, one less day they’ve had to offer the same protections to their children that others enjoy.”

The decision comes one day after a federal judge ruled in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Michigan that the state must recognize the legal marriages of 300 same-sex couples wed last spring in the state after a federal decision struck down Michigan’s ban on marriage equality and before an appellate court stayed the decision against the ban.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic are co-counsel in the two Kentucky cases, Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear, brought by lawyers at Clay Daniel Walton & Adams and the Fauver Law Office. These cases challenge Kentucky’s anti-marriage laws on the ground that they violate due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The ACLU along with Lambda Legal and Gerhardstein & Branch are also co-counsel in the Ohio case, Obergefell, et al v. Hodges.

“We are thrilled the court will finally decide this issue,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project. “The country is ready for a national solution that treats lesbian and gay couples fairly.”

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled November 6, 2014 to uphold four bans in Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky on the freedom to marry and the recognition of marriages between same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions. It is the only federal circuit court after the Supreme Court’s watershed 2013 Windsor ruling to uphold such bans.

“We appreciate the opportunity to present the stories of our clients, some of whom have been in loving, committed relationships for decades,” said Daniel Canon of Clay Daniel Walton & Adams. “They like other couples in Kentucky and elsewhere, have been denied their fundamental rights for far too long. We are hopeful the Court will fully and finally invalidate the discriminatory anti-marriage laws of Kentucky and other states.”