On February 10, 2014, four same-sex couples and one of the couples' adopted child filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that Ohio's constitutional ban on same sex marriage and the manner in which that ban has been applied were unconstitutional under the Due Process and Fair Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution. Specifically, several of the couples are expecting children and under current Ohio law only one parent would be recorded on the birth certificate of the children. Plaintiffs requested that the court declare the relevant sections of the Ohio Constitution unconstitutional and issue injunctive relief ensuring that the couples be permitted to record both parents' names on the birth certificates of their children.
On April 14, 2014, Judge Timothy Black issued a ruling holding unconstitutional Ohio's ban on recognition of same-sex marriages from other states, and requiring Ohio to recognize all such marriages. The defendants moved for a stay order against the injunction the next day. On April 16th, the judge granted in part the defendants' motion for stay of injunction pending appeal; he stayed the application of the unconstitutionality to non-plaintiff same-sex couples but did not stay the injunctive relief provided to named plaintiffs.
The defendants appealed to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on May 9th, 2014. On November 6, 2014, the Sixth Circuit ruled on this and other cases from four states. DeBoer v. Snyder (PB-MI-0004
in this Clearinghouse). Obergefell v. Hodges (PB-OH-0003
in this Clearinghouse). Love v. Beshear (PB-KY-0001
in this Clearinghouse). Tanco v. Haslam (PB-TN-0005
in this Clearinghouse). It was unwilling to find a Constitutional basis to deny states' authority to define marriage. On the Due Process and Equal Protection claims raised in this case, the court found that it was bound by Supreme Court precedent in Baker v. Nelson, 191 N.W.2d 185 (Minn. 1971), which it found not overruled by Windsor nor by "doctrinal developments". It found that the bans were plausibly rational, and neither in violation of the Constitution nor due to illegal animus or discrimination. It also held that "[i]f it is constitutional for a State to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, it is also constitutional for the State to stand by that definition with respect to couples married in other States or countries." (DeBoer v. Snyder Page p. 38). Accordingly, the Sixth Circuit upheld the same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari review of all the 6th Circuit cases on Jan. 16, 2015. Bourke v. Beshear, 135 S. Ct. 1041 (2015). The Court rephrased the questions presented as: 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) 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?
On June 26, 2015, the Court reversed, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy. The right to marry is fundamental, the Court held, and it demeans gay and lesbian couples to deprive them of access to marriage. The 14th Amendment therefore does not allow states to ban same-sex marriage. Kennedy was joined without further writing by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor. Each of the four dissenters--Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito--wrote a dissent. Chris MacColl - 04/15/2014
Nadji Allan - 11/12/2014