Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio & Tennessee
2014-NOV: More reactions to U.S. 6th Circuit
Appeals' anti-marriage equality ruling.
2014 public opinion poll. Four cases
U.S. Supreme Court!
Reactions to the decision by the 6th Circuit Court (Cont'd):
Recent polls showing public support for, and opposition to, same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee:
According to the Freedom to Marry web site, as of 2013-DEC, public opinion polls show that marriage equality is currently favored by:
- A 51% majority among all voters who lived in states where same-sex marriage was not allowed. 41% of voters were opposed. 2
- A 59% majority among all voters in the central states, which include Michigan and Ohio, and are adjacent to Kentucky and Tennessee. 36% were opposed. 3
Some civil libertarians and members of the LGBT community strongly feel that basic human rights, such as the right to marry the person that one loves and to whom one has made a life-long commitment, should be guaranteed by state and federal Constitutions and not subjected to a vote by the public. However, polling data are useful to see the current public opinion. Among the four states involved in the 5th Circuit Court decision:
- In Kentucky:
- During 2004-NOV, only 28% of voters favored marriage equality when they voted on the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
- By 2014-FEB, a Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegrass Poll found that 35% of voters in Kentucky favored same-sex marriage; 55% were opposed; 10% were uncertain or didn't answer. The margin of error was ±3 percentage points. 4
- By 2014-JUL, a subsequent Bluegrass Poll showed 37% in favor; 50% were opposed; 13% had no opinion. 5
- National polls show an increase in support for marriage equality of about 1.5% per year and a similar reduction in opposition. If this rate holds for Kentucky, a majority of voters should favor same-sex marriage by the end of 2018.
- In Michigan:
- During a Michigan State University "State of the State Survey," ending on 2014-FEB-10, 54% residents were found to favor marriage equality; 36 percent were opposed; 10% were undecided. The margin of error was ±3.1 percentage points. 6
- A 2014-APR poll by Public Policy Polling found that 49% favored marriage equality, while 46% were opposed and 7% were undecided or didn't answer. This poll happened a few weeks after turmoil was created by same-sex couples rushing to get married after a court decision in favor of marriage and before a stay was applied. 7
- In Ohio:
- A 2014-FEB Public Religion Research Institute poll found that 53% of adults supported same-sex marriage, while 38% were opposed. 8
- A 2014-APR SurveyUSA poll found that 43% of voters supported same-sex marriage wile 49% were opposed. However, 48% felt that Ohio should recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, while 45% were opposed. The poll's margin of error is ±4 percentage points. 9
- In Tennessee:
- A 2014-FEB-14 poll by the Middle Tennessee State University Survey Group showed that only 25% of Tennessee adults favor same-sex marriage, compared to 64% who oppose it. 12% are unsure or didn't answer. This may be due to the very large percentage, 68%, of Tennesseans, who identify themselves as evangelical Christians. 77% of evangelicals in Tennessee are opposed to marriage equality whereas a slim majority, 51%, of non-evangelicals in the state support same-sex marriage. 10
Most conservative commentators prefer to ignore recent polls. Instead, they quote the voting results at the time that the state's constitutional SSM ban was passed. That was typically during 2004 or 2008 when opposition to marriage equality was much higher than it is today.
Many liberal commentators and LGBT groups prefer to ignore recent polls because they feel that fundamental human rights, like the right to marry the person that one loves and to whom one is willing to give a lifetime committment, should not be determined by a public opinion. Such votes are often referred to as the "tyranny of the majority," and were a major concern of the founders of the United States.
Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court filed:
On 2014-NOV-14, the cases from Ohio and Tennessee were appealed by plaintiffs to the U.S. Supreme Court. Three days later, the cases from Michigan and Kentucky were appealed as well.
The Human Rights Campaign, one of the leading national groups promoting marriage equality, commented:
"Today plaintiffs in Michigan and Kentucky filed for writ of certiorari, rounding out the rest of the Sixth Circuit states to make a formal request of the U.S. Supreme Court to review its cases. ... The Supreme Court is under no obligation as to which case or cases - if any - it chooses to hear on appeal, although the loss in the Sixth Circuit creates a circuit court split, with the 4th, 7th, 8th, and 10th Circuit Court ruling in favor of marriage equality and the 6th Circuit Court voting against, This split vastly increases the likelihood that the Supreme Court will take up the issue of marriage." 13
The 2:1 decision by three-judge panel of the 6th Circuitis to uphold the marriage ban is encouraging news for:
- Those in favor of marriage equality because -- finally -- there is a conflict among U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal that can only be harmonized if the U.S. Supreme Court were to take up one or more of these cases case by granting certiorari -- agreeing to hear the case(s), -- and rendering a judgment which will probably bring same-sex marriage uniformity to the country.
- Those opposed to marriage equality for the same reason.
About 90% of humans are heterosexual; the rest are roughly equally divided between those with a homosexual and bisexual orientation. In terms of the American population, this means that approximately 15 million citizens identify themselves as gay or lesbian or will later discover that they are gay or lesbian. So too for America's approximately 15 million bisexuals. Their future marriage options are currently hanging in the balance.
Now that the four cases have been appealed to the high court, the nine Justices would seem to have relatively few options:
- They may grant certiorari -- accept the appeal -- hear one or more cases, and issue a ruling that restricts marriage across the U.S. to only opposite-sex couples. This would probably forcibly divorce all existing married same-sex couples against their will, and make new same-sex marriages unavailable everywhere in the U.S.
- They may grant certiorari, and eventually decide that the present patchwork of marriage options for same-sex couples across the country is acceptable. This decision might be based on some special situation detected in these four states that is not present elsewhere in the U.S.
- They may not grant certiorari and leave the decision in favor of the same-sex marriage bans by the three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court as settled law in the four states.
- They may grant certiorari and make marriage equality the law of the entire country as the high court did in 1967 with interracial marriages. That ruling was based on the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which require governments to treat people -- and thus couples -- equally, At that time, 16 states still had
anti-miscegenation laws remaining in place that prohibited interracial couples from marrying. By coincidence, when the 6th Circuit Court's ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, there were also 16 states prohibiting same-sex marriage.
- They may grant certiorari and issue a ruling that found all of the constitutional bans on same-sex marriage to have been constitutional after all. This would probably also forcibly divorce large numbers of couples against their will.
The stakes are very high. There are are probably even more options available to the high court that are not listed here.
Whatever decision is handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, we expect that it will be by a 5 to 4 vote.
If the U.S. Supreme Court decides to accept at least one appeal, hearings would probably be held in the spring of 2015, and a decision issued in late 2015-JUN.
The decision might not be permanent. Over time, new Justices will be nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court. That could cause the high court to issue a ruling on same-sex marriage in the future that overturned whatever decision is made this year.
It is also possible, but very unlikely, that Congress could initiate an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that banned same-sex marriages and thus overruled whatever decision the high court made.
Dale Carpenter, a law professor and specialist in civil rights and civil liberties law at the University of Minnesota Law School speculates that of the multiple appeals to the high court, they might select the Michigan case alone to consider. 14
2015-JAN-16: The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to meet:
The Justices will discuss and probably decide whether to accept appeals from one or more of the four same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and/or Tennessee. On JAN-09, the Justices did deny a request from plaintiffs in a Louisiana case to accept an appeal of a decision by a federal District Court before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issues its ruling. 14
This topic continues with the acceptance by the Supreme Court of the four appeals
from KY, MI, OH, & TN
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Marriage litigation at the 6th Circuit," Freedom to Marry, at: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/
- "January 20, 2014: Anzalone Liszt Grove Research," Freedom to Marry, at http://www.freedomtomarry.org/
- "Growing support for marriage in every region of the Country, Freedom to Marry, at: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/
- Linda Blackford, "Majority of Kentucky voters oppose same-sex marriage, but opposition appears to be softening," Lexington Herald-Leader, 2014-FEB-07, at: http://www.kentucky.com/
- Mike Wynn, "Poll: Opposition to gay marriage waning in Ky.," USA Today, 2014-JUL-29, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
- Jonathan Oosting, "MSU survey: Majority of Michigan residents support gay marriage as judge considers ban," MLive, 2014-MAR-01, at: http://www.mlive.com/
- "Clinton leads Republicans in Michigan," Public Policy Polling, 2014-APR-09, at: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/
- Robert P. Jones, "A Shifting Landscape," Public Religion Research Institute,
2014-FEB-26, at: http://www.publicreligion.org/
- "Results of SurveyUSA election poll #21223,"Survey USA, 2014-APR-29, at: http://www.surveyusa.com/
- "MTSU Polls Public Opinion on Guns, Gay Marriage, Medical Marijuana, Obamacare, Abortion, WIGS," TNReport, 2014-FEB-13, at:
- Dale Carpenter, "Two more same-sex marriage cases reach the Supreme Court," The Washington Post, 2014-NOV-18, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Dale Carpenter, "Inverted equal protection: same-sex marriage at the Sixth Circuit (Part I, originalism),"
The Washington Post, 2014-NOV-14, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- "All Four States in Sixth Circuit Have Filed Appeals to Supreme Court," Human Rights Campaign, 2014-NOV-17, at:
- Chris Geidner, "The Supreme Court Is Likely To Set Up The Same-Sex Marriage Showdown On Friday," 2015-JAN-15, at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/
Copyright © 2014 & 2015 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally published: 2014-DEC-02-
Last updated 2015-JAN-15
Author: Bruce A Robinson