States urge Supreme Court to take up gay marriage

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Challenges to gay marriage bans - state by state - 2014 - same-sex marriage
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States urge Supreme Court to take up gay marriage
ARKANSAS: A state judge in May struck down the state's ban. The state Supreme Court brought marriages to a halt and is weighing state officials' appeal. Same-sex couples are also suing the state in federal court. The attorney general's office has asked that proceedings in both cases be put on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether to take up a case from Utah.
COLORADO: Several county clerks began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in June despite the ban. A state judge struck down the ban July 9 but put the ruling on hold while the state appeals. On July 23, a federal judge also overturned the ban but issued a stay; a federal appeals court later extended the stay. The state Supreme Court on July 29 ordered all clerks to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Republican Attorney General John Suthers says that he knows it's only a matter of time until gay marriage is legal but that he'll continue to defend the law.
FLORIDA: A federal judge declared the state's ban unconstitutional in mid-August, joining state judges in four counties. He issued a stay delaying the effect of his order, meaning no marriage licenses will be immediately issued for gay couples.
HAWAII: Same-sex couples sued in 2011 to overturn the state's ban. A federal court later upheld the ban, but then Legislature last year legalized gay marriage. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments in San Francisco on Sept. 8, the same day it will consider cases from Idaho and Nevada.
IDAHO: State officials are appealing a federal judge's decision to overturn the state's ban. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is scheduled to hear arguments Sept. 8, the same day it will consider appeals from Hawaii and Nevada.
INDIANA: A federal judge struck down the state's ban in June, and hundreds of couples wed before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago granted a stay of the ruling. The appeals court heard argument from both sides on Aug. 26, though no decision was immediately made.
KENTUCKY: Two Kentucky cases were among six from four states heard in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Aug. 6. Rulings are pending on recognition of out-of-state marriages, as well as the ban on marriages within the state.
MICHIGAN: The state's ban was overturned by a federal judge in March following a rare trial that mostly focused on the impact on children. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati heard arguments Aug. 6, and a ruling is pending.
NEVADA: Eight couples are challenging Nevada's voter-approved 2002 ban, which a federal judge upheld a decade later. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has scheduled arguments for Sept. 8, the same day the court will consider appeals from Hawaii and Idaho.
OHIO: Two Ohio cases were argued Aug. 6 in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and a ruling is pending. In one, two gay men whose spouses were dying sued to have their out-of-state marriages recognized on their spouses' death certificates. In the other, four couples sued to have both spouses listed on their children's birth certificates.
OKLAHOMA: An appeals court tossed the state's ban in July but put its ruling on hold on hold pending an appeal, meaning same-sex couples can't marry in Oklahoma for now. Attorneys representing the Tulsa County court clerk -- who refused to issue a marriage license for a lesbian couple there -- asked the Supreme Court this month to hear the case.
TENNESSEE: The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Aug. 6 on an appeal of a federal judge's order to recognize three same-sex couples' marriages while their lawsuit against the state works through the courts. A ruling is pending.
UTAH: The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled this summer that Utah must allow gay couples to marry, though it put the ruling on hold pending an appeal. The state has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the state's ban.
VIRGINIA: The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled in July that the state's voter-approved ban is unconstitutional. The state has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which hasn't said whether it will accept the case. But the high court granted a request on Aug. 20 from a county clerk to delay implementation of the ruling, which would have allowed same-sex couples to marry beginning the next day.
WISCONSIN: A federal judge struck down the state's ban in June, leading to more than 500 same-sex weddings before the judge put her ruling on hold. The state appealed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, which heard arguments from both sides on Aug. 26 but made no immediate ruling.
ELSEWHERE: Other states with court cases demanding recognition of gay marriage are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. Most lawsuits challenge same-sex marriage bans or ask states to recognize gay marriages done in other states.
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By SCOTT BAUER and MICHAEL TARM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A stinging rejection of same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana, issued by a unanimous and unequivocal U.S. appeals court, has brought hope to those fighting the laws that the Supreme Court will feel pressure to rule soon in their favor.

The ruling from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago came Thursday, the same day 32 states asked the Supreme Court to settle the issue once and for all.

Fifteen states that allow gay marriage, led by Massachusetts, filed a brief asking the justices to take up three cases from Virginia, Utah and Oklahoma and overturn bans. And 17 other states, led by Colorado, that have banned the practice asked the court to hear cases from Utah and Oklahoma to clear up a "morass" of lawsuits, but didn't urge the court to rule one way or another.

Celebrations Thursday over the latest legal victory for gay couples seeking to get married were tempered knowing that the bigger - and final - battle rests with the high court.

Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Bans that have been overturned in some other states continue to make their way through the courts. Since last year, the vast majority of federal rulings have declared same-sex marriages bans unconstitutional.

Republican Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he would appeal Thursday's ruling from a three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit to the Supreme Court.

The decision left no doubt how the 7th Circuit felt about Wisconsin and Indiana's bans, criticizing the states' justifications for them. Several times, the ruling singled out the argument that only marriage between a man and a woman should allowed because it's tradition.

"My belief is that this court is trying to send a message elsewhere, to say it's time to get this over with," said Henry Greene, 51, who lives with his partner, Glenn Funkhouser, in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, Indiana. "It's time to put discrimination aside."

Keith Borden and his partner, Johannes Wallmann, are among the eight couples that challenged Wisconsin's ban. Borden, of Madison, said he was thrilled with the latest victory.

"I will never get tired of saying once again love wins," Borden said. "I don't feel the battle is over, but we're one step closer."

The decision came unusually fast for the 7th Circuit - just nine days after oral arguments. The court typically takes months on rulings.

The opinion repeatedly mentioned the issue of tradition, noting that some, such as shaking hands, may "seem silly" but "are at least harmless." That's not the case with gay-marriage bans, the court said.

"If no social benefit is conferred by a tradition and it is written into law and it discriminates against a number of people and does them harm beyond just offending them, it is not just a harmless anachronism; it is a violation of the equal protection clause," the opinion said.

The court's decision won't take effect for at least 21 days, which gives the states time to ask that it be put on hold, said Camilla Taylor, a lawyer for Lambda Legal who argued on behalf of Wisconsin plaintiffs.

The Wisconsin and Indiana cases shifted to Chicago after attorneys general in the states appealed separate lower court rulings in June tossing the bans.

Judge Richard Posner, an appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan, wrote the opinion. During oral arguments, Posner fired tough questions at the bans' defenders, often expressing exasperation at their answers.

The other two judges on the panel were 2009 Barack Obama appointee David Hamilton and 1999 Bill Clinton appointee Ann Claire Williams.

The ruling echoed Posner's comments during oral arguments that "hate" underpinned the bans. "Homosexuals are among the most stigmatized, misunderstood, and discriminated-against minorities in the history of the world," the decision said.

Julaine Appling, the head of the group Wisconsin Family Action, which led the 2006 campaign to adopt the state's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, called the decision wrong-headed and dangerous.

"What they just legalized is not marriage," Appling said. "It's something else."


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