John M. Becker

Marriage Equality Oral Arguments: Audio, Analysis

Filed By John M. Becker | August 06, 2014 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: appeals court, court cases, gay marriage, Kentucky, marriage equality, Michigan, Ohio, same-sex marriage, Tennessee

scales_justice.jpgToday's marriage equality hearing at the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded, and early reactions and analyses from reporters are now coming in. The complete audio files have also been released; they're after the break, so skip down if you'd like.

The judges, as expected, did not rule from the bench today, so now comes the guessing game. As usual with court cases, it's all tea-leaf reading at this point (albeit educated tea-leaf reading), but it looks like most people are expecting a 2-1 decision. Judge Daughtrey, a Clinton appointee, strongly indicated that she will vote to strike down bans on same-sex marriage, while George W. Bush appointee Deborah Cook is considered a reliable vote for marriage discrimination.

The wild card is Judge Jeffrey Sutton, another George W. Bush appointee who reportedly expressed skepticism about banning same-sex marriage but also indicated he was nervous about getting out too far ahead of the American public on the issue. Given that polls consistently show that a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry I'm not exactly sure who he's worried about, but I digress...

Either way, I'm not worried. If the court decides -- as every single court has in the post-Windsor era -- that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violates the Constitution, then we'll have another victory to add to the list. If they break the pattern and rule against us, that will set up a conflict between circuits, as both the Fourth and Tenth Circuits have ruled for marriage equality. And a conflict between circuits would all but ensure that the Supreme Court takes up the constitutional question of marriage equality.

Reactions from reporters at the courthouse are below.

Chris Johnson

Steve Friess

Chris Geidner

Also worth noting is that Judge Daughtrey ripped discredited anti-gay "researcher" Mark Regnerus, whom the state of Michigan called as an expert witness back in March and whose testimony was subsequently shredded by District Judge Bernard Friedman as "entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration":

The full audio from today's oral arguments is after the jump, via Freedom to Marry.

Michigan

Tennessee

Kentucky

Ohio

For an overview of each clip and key quotes from the judges, check out this great summary from Freedom to Marry.

UPDATE: The Washington Blade's Chris Johnson has posted his initial thoughts, and he's predicting another win for our side:

State bans on same-sex marriage took beating on Wednesday during oral arguments before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals as a three-judge panel had tough questions for officials seeking to defend the prohibition on gay nuptials in four states.

Based on their line of questioning, two judges -- U.S. Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtry and U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton -- seemed prepared to rule against bans on same-sex marriage. U.S. Circuit Judge Deborah Cook was relatively quiet, but appeared poised to rule in favor of the laws. Similar to other federal appeals court rulings, the panel seemed headed to make a 2-1 decision in favor of marriage equality.

The arguments were historic because it marked the first time a court heard over the course of one day challenges to marriage bans in four states. The Sixth Circuit heard challenges to laws in each of the states within its jurisdiction: Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky.


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