John M. Becker

Two More Marriage Cases Now On Supremes' Doorstep

Filed By John M. Becker | August 05, 2014 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, Indiana, Kentucky, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, same-sex marriage, Supreme Court, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin

supreme-court-side-view.jpgTwo more marriage equality cases are now on the doorstep of the United States Supreme Court.

In Oklahoma, the Tulsa County Clerk announced on Friday that she will ask the justices to review last month's federal court ruling overturning that state's marriage discrimination amendment. The clerk is a defendant in the case.

The Oklahoman reports:

Kerri Kupec, spokeswoman for the Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Oklahoman that the clerk will ask Supreme Court justices to review the July 18 decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In that 2-1 decision, the court ruled that Oklahoma's ban violates 14th Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law.

Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, the Tulsa County couple who sued the court clerk when she refused to give them a marriage license, issued a joint statement Friday night.

"Although we aren't surprised by the Alliance Defending Freedom's decision to appeal our victory from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, neither are we disappointed," the couple said. "We are ready to see the highest court in the land affirm that marriage equality is the law of the land. We have confidence in our case and our lawyers, and should the Supreme Court agree to hear our case, we anticipate a victory there, as well."

In Virginia, Michele B. McQuigg -- one of two anti-gay county clerks who intervened to defend that state's marriage ban after Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring refused to do so -- indicated on Friday that she will ask the Court to decide the future of marriage discrimination in her state as well.

SCOTUSblog has the story:

Michele B. McQuigg, who is the county clerk of Prince William County, a jurisdiction just south of Washington, D.C., asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to delay its July 28 decision striking down the Virginia ban on same-sex marriages. She asked for a ninety-day delay to allow her to file a petition for review in the Supreme Court, which she said her lawyers would file by October 26.

Unlike most other states involved in court battles over same-sex marriage, Virginia allows its county clerks -- the officers who issue marriage licenses -- to be in court to defend the state ban. In other states where a defense has been mounted behind such a prohibition, state officials have done so.

The Oklahoma and Virginia cases join Kitchen v. Herbert, the Utah marriage equality case, on the High Court's doorstep.

The Utah appeal was officially filed today, Freedom to Marry reports:

Utah's attorney general today filed an appeal asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the marriage case Kitchen v. Herbert. This is the first time a case about marriage for same-sex couples has been appealed to the Supreme Court since last year's landmark ruling.

Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:

"Today's filing in the Utah case paves the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a marriage case later this year and bring national resolution on marriage once and for all. Every day, hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples and their children are suffering the tangible harms of not being free to marry. The sting of discrimination and the crazy quilt of marriage laws are not just wrong but unconstitutional. The momentum is clear, the hardships of denial are real, and the country is ready for the High Court to act."

As usual, the Court has total discretion over the cases it hears, and no deadline for making a decision on whether or not to act at all. It's currently in recess until October, so we won't know anything until at least that point.

By that time, the Justices may have even more marriage equality cases to choose from: freedom-to-marry cases from four states -- Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee -- will be argued tomorrow in federal appeals court in Cincinnati; another federal appeals court in Chicago will hear oral arguments challenging marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana on August 26. Depending on how quickly the Sixth Circuit (Cincinnati) and Seventh Circuit (Chicago) move to issue their decisions and whether or not any of the states appeal (hint: at least one will, and most likely more), these cases may be eligible for consideration as well.

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