A federal appeals court has ruled that the gay marriage bans in four states are constitutional. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed rulings from lower courts that had legalized gay marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. It is the first time since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act that a federal appeals court has upheld a gay marriage ban.
The 2 to 1 decision increases the likelihood that the Supreme Court will take up a gay marriage case in the current term. The Supreme Court declined appeals from Indiana and other states that had wanted the highest court in the land to hear their cases after federal appeals courts struck down same-sex marriage bans in those states. The Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage in five states with its decision to not take the Indiana case.
As the Huffington Post reports:
Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, who wrote the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ majority opinion, said the court does not have “a sweeping grant of authority” that allows it to determine “whether gay marriage is a good idea” for the residents of those states.
“Is this a matter that the National Constitution commits to resolution by the federal courts or leaves to the less expedient, but usually reliable, work of the state democratic processes?” Sutton wrote.
Judge Deborah L. Cook joined Sutton in the majority opinion. Both Cook and Sutton were appointed to the court by President George W. Bush.
Senior Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey dissented from the ruling, writing that the majority’s opinion “what would make an engrossing TED Talk or, possibly, an introductory lecture in Political Philosophy.”
“If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams,” Daughtrey adds.
“Even more damning to the defendants’ position, however, is the fact that the State of Michigan allows heterosexual couples to marry even if the couple does not wish to have children, even if the couple does not have sufficient resources or education to care for children, even if the parents are pedophiles or child abusers, and even if the parents are drug addicts,” the dissenting judge concludes.