A panel of three federal judges heard arguments in six same-sex marriage cases Wednesday. The cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee "pit states' rights and traditional, conservative values against what plaintiffs' attorneys say is a fundamental right to marry under the U.S. Constitution," The Associated Press writes.
Ann Thompson of member station WVXU in Cincinnati summed up the arguments for our Newscast Desk:
"State attorneys say a cautious approach makes sense and voters should decide whether to allow same sex marriage. The other side says couples can't wait."
During the 6th Circuit hearing, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton questioned whether the courts were the right place to legalize gay marriage. "I would have thought the best way to get respect and dignity is through the democratic process. Nothing happens as quickly as we'd like it," Sutton said.
Here's what the cases are about, as summarized by the AP:
- Kentucky has two cases in play. One has been brought by three couples who are asking to have their out-of-state marriages recognized. The other is about Kentucky's ban on issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
- Michigan's case came about when a lesbian couple challenged the state's law "that bars them from jointly adopting their three children."
- Ohio has two cases: One about noting a gay marriage on a death certificate, and another about listing both gay parents on their children's birth certificates.
- Tennessee's case is also about gay couples being recognized on their kids' birth certificates.
The New York Times notes why this hearing on gay marriage bans could go beyond these four states:
"If this court were to rule against same-sex marriage, it would create greater pressure on the Supreme Court to rule on the issue to clear up the contradictory decisions among appeals courts."