Winning plaintiffs in 3 states want Supreme Court to hear gay marriage case

By Dennis Romboy, Deseret News

Published: Wed, Aug. 27, 2014, 2:50 p.m. MDT

 Three states have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the legality of same-sex marriage.

Three states have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the legality of same-sex marriage.


SALT LAKE CITY — Three states so far have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the legality of same-sex marriage, and the plaintiffs in each case who won in lower courts want the same thing.

Winning couples in Oklahoma and Virginia filed briefs Wednesday asking the court to take up the issue, even though district and appellate courts have ruled in their favor. Plaintiffs in the Utah case said earlier this month they're supporting the state's petition to the Supreme Court. Their brief is due next week.

Both sides in Utah argue Kitchen v. Herbert is the ideal vehicle for the high court to decide the issue once and for all, partly because it not only addresses whether same-sex marriage is constitutional but whether marriages already performed should be recognized.

Lawyers for couples in Virginia contend that "given the critical importance of this issue to plaintiffs and to hundreds of thousands of other gay men and lesbians across the country — as well as to their children and extended families — this court’s review is acutely needed to settle the question."

In the Oklahoma cases, attorneys for the plaintiffs wrote, "The time has come for this court to decide whether state laws denying same-sex couples the right to marry should be discarded into the same ash heap of history."

All three states want the Supreme Court to take their cases in its October term. The justices will start sifting petitions Sept. 29. It takes the vote of four justices for the court to accept a case.

Utah was the first state to ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on same-sex marriage. But that doesn't mean the court will hear its case. It could take another state's case, combine cases or wait for more appellate rulings before making a decision.

A number of amicus or friend-of-the-court briefs are expected to be filed in the next week. Attorneys for the state and the plaintiffs have already agreed to any amicus briefs filed on behalf of either side that support the Supreme Court hearing the case.

If the court decides to take Utah's case or another case, lawyers for the parties would file another round of written arguments and replies. Oral arguments wouldn't likely come until mid winter or spring of 2015. The justices would issue a ruling by the end of June.

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy; DNewsPolitics

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1. FatherOfFour
Aug. 27, 2014

If I were on the Supreme Court I would wait just a bit. I know that is devastating to many LGBT couples, and thousands of children being raised by them, but I believe a little patience would pay off in the long run. Thus far 20 different federal judges have struck down marriage bans in 20 different states, leaving only eight to go. Only one circuit court has ruled thus far (also against the ban) but the 7th Circuit has all but said they will rule the same way. There are three other circuit courts pending. By next June, the remaining eight states will most likely follow the lead of the last twenty. By then the remaining circuit court decisions will be announced as well. And most likely a few of these states will have overturned their bans legislatively. The SCOTUS may not need to step in, but if they decide to do so all of the groundwork needed will be done.

2. Hutterite
American Fork, UT,
Aug. 27, 2014

It would probably be better if same sex marriage gradually becomes accepted, because many here will scream judicial activism in response to a supreme court ruling.

3. Stormwalker
Cleveland , OH,
Aug. 27, 2014

8 million people. According to a recent CDC study at least 8,000,000 Americans identify as Gay or Lesbian or Bisexual. First, we gave those American citizens the same privilege to serve openly and honestly in the military with the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Then SCOTUS overturned DOMA and the Federal government began to recognize, in some ways, the committed relationships of those 8,000,000 citizens.

Now, in court after court across the country, states are being led to recognize the civil rights and relationships of those 8,000,000 Americans. There is still a ways to go - housing, employment, healthcare and many other areas. But it is coming. The sooner Marriage Equality is ruled by the Supreme Court the sooner we can move on to the rest of the changes that need to happen.

I support traditional marriage. I support same-sex marriage. I support marriage and families.

4. Understands Math
Lacey, WA,
Aug. 27, 2014

@FatherOfFour wrote: "And most likely a few of these states will have overturned their bans legislatively."

I don't think that's particularly likely. The one state that had a genuine shot of repealing an anti-equality state constitutional amendment in the short term was Oregon: activists gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot this November, but with the Geiger v. Kitzhaber ruling, and the state's decision not to appeal it, the activists decided not to continue.

That being said, I wouldn't be hugely surprised if SCOTUS did decline to hear some of the appeals--which would bring an end to those cases, and the stays on the decisions in those cases, which would bring marriage equality to the circuits involved (10th, 4th, presumably the 7th).

5. Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA,
Aug. 27, 2014

The 6th Circuit Court will probably rule against Gay Marriage. The 7th Circuit Court will almost certainly rule in favor of Gay Marriage. The 9th Circuit Court has their final hearing in less than two weeks. All these decisions will come out before the end of the year. Add to that some 30 state and local district court decisions. It seems like everyone is just repeating the same arguments. I don't see what having another year and another 30 court cases would really accomplish.