On Thursday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments to decide if individual states will have the authority to ban gay marriages. Also, the Supreme Court will release the transcripts of the argument around 2 p.m. EST the same day. Normally, transcripts are not released until the end of the week.
Briefs from same-sex couples that are challenging the bans on gay marriage in four Midwest states were filed last week. Friend-of-the-court briefs will be filed and will arrive by the Friday deadline. The hope is that there will be an overwhelming amount of briefs supporting gay marriage by the end of the day, Friday. A “brief by the people,” containing the signatures of over 200,000 gay marriage supporters, will also be filed Friday by the Human Rights Campaign. The Human Rights Campaign is the largest gay rights organization.
Lawyers in Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio have several weeks before briefs defending the bans on gay marriage are due. After that, those who are challenging the bans will have another chance to file briefs. Over 150 elected and retired officials, state legislators, university governors, regents, municipal officials, Congressman John Coyers and Sander Levin, and the mayors of East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Flint, Ferndale, Royal Oak, and Kalamazoo have joined the fight in filing briefs.
The briefs state that putting the gay marriage bans of 2004 and 2006 were part of a, “strategy by national political operatives and injure gays and lesbians for political gain.” However, those who are in defense of the gay marriage ban, which includes Bill Schuette, Michigan’s Attorney General, argues the voters in these states made a decision that should be honored and not overturned by federal courts. Nearly 59 percent of people in Michigan were in favor of the ban on gay marriage that was executed in 2004.
The officials say the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the bans and dismissed the fact that gay marriage is being placed into state constitutions, making it even more difficult to ban or reverse, even at the Supreme Court level. Moreover, the brief states that the bans unfairly, “target a minority that has suffered a long history of invidious discrimination and that has limited power to effect democratic change.” The courts would have to overturn what are believed to be violations of the equal protection and due process clauses, rights preserved by the Constitution.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals was the only federal appellate court to continue to uphold bans against gay marriage in November. Until the two-to-one ruling, justices stayed the rulings, striking down state bans from Virginia to Utah, and not allowing petitions from those states who wanted the high court to step in to rule.
There have also been several new court hearings. Gays and lesbians are permitted to legally exchange vows in 37 states, including Florida and Alaska. Shortly, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will be ruling in a case that includes Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, that may very well raise the number to 40 states that support gay marriage.
The arguments set to take place in April at the Supreme Court will include 90 minutes on the basic right to marry in each state, and 60 minutes on why states should be allowed to refuse legal gay marriages of couples moving from other states. Those who may wish to hear this case concerning banning gay marriage being heard in the Supreme Court will be permitted to get the recording and transcript form the court’s website.
By Jeanette Smith
Photo courtesy of Lars Lundqvist – Flickr License