Four states’ marriage equality cases to be heard in single court session on August 6


On August 6, six cases regarding marriage equality laws in four states will be heard in a single court session.

Judges at the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit will hear challenges to two cases each in Kentucky and Ohio, and a single case from both Michigan and Tennessee.

It will be the fourth hearing held by a federal circuit court, the highest courts in the US below the Supreme Court, since key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) were struck down in June 2013.

In the previous three cases, held in the Fourth and Tenth Circuit courts, marriage equality bans in Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia were struck down as unconstitutional.

Civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein, who is representing the plaintiffs in both of the Ohio cases, told ABC News in June, “I think the way the court’s approaching it is significant. They see the need to do some basic rulings on core principles cutting across all these state lines. It’s very exciting.”

The court case on August 6 will be presided over by a panel of three judges who will hear the arguments from each case one at a time. It is unknown if all of the cases will be decided in a single ruling, or individually. Regardless, any subsequent appeals would be made to the US Supreme Court.

According to ABC News, University of Richmond professor of constitutional law Carl Tobias said that consolidating the cases is unusual, but not unheard of—for example, the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling came about after several cases regarding segregation were consolidated.

Additionally, although LGBT rights cases have seen victory after victory since the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down in June 2013, Tobias said that it’s possible this case will be an exception: “Appellate judges are a little more distant and different than individual district judges and they’re more willing to go against the tide.”


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