WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Supreme Court announced Friday afternoon that it would hear same-sex marriage cases from four states, making the way for a historic decision regarding the culturally polarizing issue.
Unlike previous states that had their same-sex marriage bans overturned by their respective appellate courts, the four state cases chosen by the Supreme Court – from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee – had their bans upheld by the lower court.
The Supreme court is likely to hear arguments in April, with a total of two-and-a-half-hours set aside for the hearings, according to the SCOTUSblog. A final ruling could be expected by late June.
Two specific questions to be considered by the Supreme Count include:
- Does a state have the right to ban same-sex marriage?
- Does a state have to recognize a same-sex marriage done in another state?
Same-sex marriage is legal in 36 states, with bans still active, yet court-challenged, in 14 other states.
The Supreme Court decided not to hear the first batch of same-sex marriage ban cases in October, which included Utah’s. The action ultimately upheld lower court rulings that the bans were unconstitutional and the affected states were ordered to start handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Utah was the first domino to fall in the cascade of same-sex marriage ban challenges when a federal judge ruled the state’s own ban, Amendment 3, unconstitutional on Dec. 20, 2013. Over 1,200 same-sex couples were married across the state before Supreme Court put a stay on the ruling. The stay was lifted in early October and the marriages resumed.
Though its own case was rejected, Fox13now reported that Utah may get involved in the new cases by filing an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief, in support of the marriage bans.
In response to the Supreme Court’s announcement it would hear the same-sex marriage cases, Equality Utah released the following statement:
Executive Director Troy Williams applauded the move and welcomed the opportunity for the nation’s highest court to affirm the freedom to marry for all loving couples. “This is a defining moment for gay Americans,” Williams said, “All gay and lesbian couples deserve the freedom to marry who they love. We look forward to the Supreme Court determining once and for all that LGBT Americans do enjoy equal protections under the law.”
Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, also weighed in on the issue:
Although I oppose discrimination based on sexual orientation, I have always believed that marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman. In my view, the U.S. Constitution does not dictate a particular definition of marriage, so I believe such judgments are properly left to the citizens of each state. I hope the Supreme Court ultimately adheres to the original understanding of the Constitution and allows each state to define marriage for itself.
From the Utah Attorney General’s Office:
We are pleased that the Supreme Court of the United States has chosen to grant Certiorari, review briefs and hear arguments regarding a state’s authority to define marriage and that this process will provide all citizens with clarity and resolution on an issue of such importance.
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- US Supreme Court denies hearing Utah’s petition on marriage statute
- High court may consider hearing Utah’s same-sex marriage case
- Supreme Court grants stay on same-sex marriage recognition
- Appeals court denies Utah’s request to stay recognition of same-sex marriages
- State leaders, others respond to court striking down Amendment 3
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