The U.S. Supreme Court's acceptance of appeals of 4 SSM cases:
one each from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee.
Part 8: 2015-MAR:
Briefs about same-sex marriage filed with the
U.S. Supreme Court by the Obama Administration,
Congress, various groups, and individuals in the
case Obergefell v. Hodges.
We use the acronym "SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage."
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
¬ "Supporting marriage equality is, in fact, the conservative position." by Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, 2015-MAR. 1
2015-MAR-06: Deadline for briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court:
On 2014-NOV-06, a ruling by a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee to be constitutional. The vote was 2 to 1. This produced a "circuit split" in which the 6th Circuit ruled same-sex marriage bans to be constitutional even though the 4th, 7th and 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had found similar bans to be unconstitutional earlier in 2014. What a difference one judge's vote on one Circuit Court can make!
As long as there is agreement among the lower courts, the high court is often reluctant to interfere with matters involving cultural change. But when there is a disagreement, many Justices on the high court feel that they have an obligation to intervene to resolve the conflict. The high court decided in mid-2015-JAN to grant appeals in a consolidated case involving all four states.
The high court specified Friday, MAR-06 as the deadline for the filing of amici curiae (friend of he court) briefs from interested organizations and individuals who favor marriage equality everywhere in the United States. They also set Tuesday, APR-28 as the date for a two and a half hour hearing of the four cases. The Court convenes at 10 AM local time to discuss the consolidated case made up of:
- Bourke v. Beshear from Kentucky (14-574)
- DeBoer v. Snyder from Michigan (14-571)
- Obergefell v. Hodges from Ohio (14-556)
Tanco v. Haslam from Tennessee (14-562) 2
The name given to the consolidated case is the lawsuit from Ohio: Obergefell v. Hodges,
Hearings will deal with two specific questions:
- Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state? 2
The high court's final ruling is expected during late June or early July. It will probably determine the status of same-sex marriage across the entire country. It could make such marriages available everywhere, or nowhere, or in some states but not others. From the high court's votes in past years on matters related to sexual orientation, most commentators expect Justices Scalia and Thomas to be opposed to marriage equality. There are two other conservative Justices on the Supreme Court who may agree with SSM bans. There are four liberal Justices. all of whom might vote in favor of marriage equality. Justice Kennedy has often provided a swing vote.
According to Daniel Vasquez, writing for the Sun Sentinel newspaper in Florida:
"... Vegas odds say the Supreme Court will do the right thing and allow same-sex couples to marry like the heterosexual couples." 3
The stakes are very high. There are probably in excess of 30 million Americans who form the LGBT community -- or will later in their life when reach their teen years and discover that they have a homosexual or bisexual orientation. 4 Many of them -- perhaps eventually a majority -- will want to marry a same-sex partner immediately or at some time in the future. That number is equivalent to the entire population of Canada!
As of 2015-MAR-14, marriage licenses are currently routinely available to same-sex couples to over 70% of the U.S. population who live in one of 36 states. In addition, they can be obtained in the District of Columbia, and in some locations within Missouri. Such licenses were available in most counties in Alabama, until 29015-MAR-03 when the Supreme Court of Alabama intervened and ordered licenses to same-sex couples be stopped.
About the briefs filed with the high court:
Over 60 briefs favoring marriage equality were filed in support of the plaintiffs-petitioners by the Obama Administration, 520 states, 226 U.S. Mayors, 92 plaintiffs in various marriage cases, 379 employers and organizations representing employers, organizations representing lawyers, religious organizations, professional mental health groups, LGBT groups, human rights groups, etc. 2 One "People's Brief" with 207,551 signatories was filed by the Human Rights Campaign. Their brief contained more signatories than any amicus brief previously filed with the Supreme Court. There were also five briefs filed in support of neither the plaintiffs-petitioners nor the respondents. 2
Another brief supporting marriage equality was signed by 167 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 44 U.S. Senators. Only two U.S. Senators did not sign the petition: Senators Tom Udall (NM) and Joe Manchin (WV). 6
According to Equality Case Files, briefs in support of the state's opposition to marriage equality are not due until early 2015-APR. 2
In an amazing development, on 2015-MAR-05, more than 300 "veteran Republican lawmakers, operatives and consultants" filed a friend of the court brief in support of marriage equality! 7 The effort was organized by Ken Mehlman, former chairperson of the Republican National Committee.
According to Time Magazine:
"Among the signatories are 23 current and former Republicans members of the House of Representatives and Senate and seven current and former Governors. Sens. Susan Collins and Mark Kirk have signed onto the brief, as has Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Other notables include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and billionaire GOP mega-donor David Koch. ..."
"The brief makes a conservative case for the court to strike down same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, arguing they are 'inconsistent with amici‚s understanding of the properly limited role of government.'
'Although amici hold a broad spectrum of socially and politically conservative, moderate, and libertarian views, amici share the view that laws that bar same-sex couples from the institution of civil marriage, with all its attendant profoundly important rights and responsibilities, are inconsistent with the United States Constitution‚s dual promises of equal protection and due process' the brief states."
Ken Mehlman was also the lead petitioner in a brief supporting marriage equality from the Republican establishment in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S. Jim O'Sullivan, writing for the Boston Globe, said:
"Mehlman said the [Massachusetts] brief was designed to emphasize that conservatives backing gay marriage are prioritizing freedom, family values, and civil liberties.
'One of the points that I hope people appreciate when they read the brief is that supporting marriage equality is, in fact, the conservative position.' he said Wednesday in a telephone interview." 1
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Jim O'Sullivan, "Baker leads state GOP in pro-gay-marriage brief, The Boston Globe, 2015-MAR-05, at: http://www.bostonglobe.com/
"Supreme Court Marriage Cases," Facebook Notes by Equality Case Files, 2015-FEB-27, at: https://www.facebook.com/
Daniel Vasquez, "Dear Supreme Court, Florida is sorry about same-sex marriages," Sun Sentinel, 2015-FEB-10, at: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/
- There is a lack of consensus in the United States whether sexual attraction to members of the same sex is determined genetically and thus is discovered by the individual about the time of puberty, or is an actual conscious choice, or an addiction triggered by sexual experimentation. Most human sexuality specialists believe it is discovered.
Obama Administration, "United States Amicus Brief, Scribd, 2015-MAR, at: https://www.scribd.com/
"Brief of 167 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 44 U.S. Senators as amici curiae in support of petitioners," Scribd, 2015-MAR-06, at: https://www.scribd.com/
Zeke J/ Miller, "More Than 300 Republicans Call on Supreme Court to Recognize Gay Marriage Nationally," Time Magazine, 2015-MAR-05, at: http://time.com/
"How marriage equality opponents' arguments are getting turned against them," ThinkProgress, 2015-MAR-13 at: http://thinkprogress.org/
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Copyright ¬© 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-MAR-14
Latest update: 2015-MAR-15
Author: B.A. Robinson