A Setback for Marriage Equality: It’s Not Over


What a disappointment!

After 92 days of waiting we finally got a decision from the U. S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld gay marriage bans in the four states it oversees—Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky. This is the first ruling in the country from a circuit court, which is one step down from the Supreme Court, which has gone against marriage equality.

This decision, which was released late in the day yesterday, was fundamentally misguided, wrong, and unfair. Previously, in all six of the cases before the Sixth Circuit, federal judges from the lower courts had ruled to overturn marriage bans and permit marriages to be recognized from other states.

Gay marriage will continue to be banned in Ohio as well any recognition of same-sex marriages that took place outside of Ohio. Couples will continue to have to wait for recognition.

Chris Link, executive director of the ACLU of Ohio, said in a news release regarding the decision: “This is a blow to all Ohioans as no family should be told by the government that they do not count. Our work to ensure marriage equality will continue until all Ohio couples have the freedom to marry.”

What Does This Mean for Same-Sex Marriage?

Unfortunately, nothing changes for same-sex couples in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky. Gay marriage will continue to be banned in Ohio and the other three states. Additionally, same-sex marriages that took place elsewhere will not be recognized.

Same-sex couples in more than 30 other states will still have rights and benefits; however, couples in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky will continue to have to wait for the freedom to marry. The Sixth Circuit ruling creates an inequality of laws across the states and highlights the need for the Supreme Court to step in and rule once and for all.

What Are the Next Steps to Gain Marriage Equality?

The ACLU and its legal partners will ask the Supreme Court to review the Sixth Circuit’s decision. The Supreme Court’s previous decision on October 6 to not review the marriage equality cases before them unmistakably showed that the court is comfortable with marriage for same-sex couples.

It’s evident that the Sixth Circuit may not have received this message. However, the ACLU and the ACLU of Ohio and our coalition partners heard it loud and clear, and we will not stop fighting for fairness and love.

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