A federal appeals court will hear lawsuit challenging laws against same-sex marriage in Kentucky and three Midwestern states on the same day this summer.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the case on Aug. 6 in Cincinnati. Joe Dunman, an attorney for the Kentucky plaintiffs, told WFPL recently that a decision could be made in the weeks or months following those oral arguments.
On Wednesday, Dunman said the appeals court hasn’t combined the cases—but that remains a possibility. Still, the cases out of Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee deal with different facets of the same-sex marriage question, making a combination “unlikely,” he added.
The Kentucky case was initiated last year by Greg Bourke and Michael De Leon, Louisville residents who were married in Canada in 2004. In their lawsuit, Bourke and De Leon asked the federal court to compel Kentucky to recognize their union despite a 2004 ban on same-sex marriage.
Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn issued an order stating that Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment. Heyburn later issued a stay on the order. Gov. Steve Beshear hired outside counsel to appeal the case after Attorney General Jack Conway declined to challenge Heyburn’s order.
Heyburn is also considering a lawsuit by same-sex Kentucky couples who wish to be married in the state. An order in that case may come sometime this summer.
Regardless of how the appeals court rules, Dunman said he expects an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Several states have legal challenges in federal courts to same-sex marriage bans.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, scheduled arguments in five cases from the four states for Aug. 6. Though the cases are unique, each deals with whether statewide gay marriage bans violate the Constitution.
“I think the way the court’s approaching it is significant,” said Al Gerhardstein, a Cincinnati civil rights attorney who represents plaintiffs in two Ohio cases that will go before the appeals court. “They see the need to do some basic rulings on core principles cutting across all these state lines. It’s very exciting.”