The U.S. Supreme Court may rule once and for all this year whether the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution, provides same-sex couples with the right to marry. They are set to hear arguments at the beginning of the summer and will likely issue their ruling by June. In today’s blog, your Pittsburgh Marriage Rights lawyers provide some details and give you a preview of what is expected to happen.
In a meeting last week, the justices decided to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit that upheld bans on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. The decision by the Ohio-based federal appeals court was the first decision to uphold a same-sex marriage ban after appellate courts had ruled that the ban was unconstitutional. The disagreement among the circuit courts was likely what drove the justices to agree to hear this case.
The Supreme Court said that in its ruling it hoped to answer two questions, both related to the 14th Amendment. The two questions are: Does the 14th Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? And does the 14th 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?
Basically they will be deciding once and for all if every state needs to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Related to that question is the second, if all states aren’t required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, are those states required to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples married in other states.
Currently, 36 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage. That means that over 70% of the US population lives in states where same-sex marriage is allowed. Though these numbers are tremendous, supporters of marriage equality are hopeful that the Supreme Court’s decision will expand marriage rights to all citizens of the United States.