Marriage equality will be front and center in the news as the new year begins. On Jan. 6, Florida becomes marriage equality state No. 36. Three days later, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hears cases from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The same day, the U.S. Supreme Court meets to decide whether to hear a marriage case.
The panel that will hear arguments in the 5th Circuit will be announced on Dec. 29.
In October, the high court decided not to hear a marriage case. But at the time, all the lower courts that heard marriage equality cases were in agreement. Since then, a lower court in Louisiana asserted that state’s right to discriminate and so has the 6th Circuit.
Five cases are pending before the court to consider. The justices may decide to take one or more of them. If they reject all of these cases, marriage discrimination stands in the 5th and 6th Circuits until the Supreme Court decides otherwise.
• The Tennessee case, Tanco v. Haslam, was filed on behalf of four same-sex couples by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and private attorneys after the Sixth Circuit upheld the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.
• In Ohio, a joint filing of the cases Henry v. Hodges (brought by Lambda Legal and private attorneys) and Obergfell v. Hodges, (brought by ACLU and private attorneys) asked the Supreme Court to review the Sixth Circuit’s decision.
• The petition for the Michigan case, DeBoer v. Snyder, was filed by private attorneys. The case was brought on behalf of a lesbian couple challenging the state’s marriage ban so that they can jointly adopt their child. The petition asks the nine justices to rule that the state ban prohibits same-sex couples from “our nation’s most cherished and essential guarantees.”
• In Kentucky, the consolidated cases Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear, both of which were brought by private attorneys, filed a petition for cert with the U.S. Supreme Court. The cases, brought by same-sex couples challenging the state’s marriage ban, argue that the ban violates due process and equal protection guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
• In Louisiana, the case Robicheaux v. George was brought by the Forum for Equality Louisiana, with counsel from Lambda Legal, on behalf of same-sex couples challenging the state’s ban on marriage equality. In Robicheaux, a federal judge in Louisiana ruled to uphold the state’s marriage ban, the first federal district court judge to do so in the country since key portions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last June.
More on the strides made toward marriage equality in Friday’s Dallas Voice.