6th Circuit upholds marriage laws in four states

Marriage | The ruling could entice the U.S. Supreme Court to finally weigh in on the issue
by Leigh Jones
Posted 11/06/14, 05:00 pm

A federal appeals court ruled in favor of laws protecting marriage between one man and one woman in four states, the first in the country to do so. 

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed lower court rulings that overturned marriage laws in Michigan and Kentucky and required Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The ruling in Tennessee applied only to a few cases. The cases before the 6th Circuit also included questions about whether gay couples should be allowed to adopt children and whether same-sex partners should be included on death certificates. 

A three-judge panel concluded states have a right to set their own rules on marriage. Judge Jeffrey Sutton, who wrote the opinion, appeared to be the swing vote during oral arguments in August. He seemed skeptical of trying to force the issue through the courts. 

“I would have thought the best way to get respect and dignity is through the democratic process,” Sutton said then. “Nothing happens as quickly as we’d like it.” 

The ruling—not a big surprise from the more conservative court—contradicts rulings in the 4th, 7th, 9th, and 10th circuits, all of which overturned marriage laws in the states within their jurisdictions. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from several of those states. Court-watchers speculated the justices wanted to see a split in the lower courts before taking a case. Today’s ruling gives them that justification, if that’s what they were waiting for.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leigh Jones

Leigh is acting managing editor for WORLD Radio. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate who spent six years as a newspaper reporter in Texas before joining WORLD. Leigh also co-wrote Infinite Monster: Courage, Hope, and Resurrection in the Face of One of America's Largest Hurricanes. She resides with her husband and daughter in Houston, Texas.

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