By Dan Sewell, Associated Press
CINCINNATI — A month after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on gay marriage, the issue is headed its way again.
A federal appeals court Thursday halted a run of rulings supporting same-sex marriage by the U.S. courts that are the last line for appeals just below the Supreme Court. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel instead upheld laws against the practice in four states — Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Attorneys for gay plaintiffs say they will ask the Supreme Court to hear their arguments, and the split created Thursday among the federal appeals courts makes it more likely they will agree to this time.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had explained in a September speech in Minnesota that the lack of a split in the appeals courts made Supreme Court review of the issue unnecessary. But she said “there will be some urgency” if the 6th Circuit allowed same-sex marriage bans to stand.
One month ago Thursday, the Supreme Court turned away appeals from five states seeking to uphold their same-sex marriage bans. That action had the effect of further expanding gay marriage.
The 6th Circuit panel, in its 2-1 ruling, said changing the definition of marriage should be done through the political process, not by judges and lawyers.
“Surely the people should receive some deference in deciding when the time is ripe to move from one picture of marriage to another,” wrote Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, writing for himself and a fellow George W. Bush appointee.
The dissenting judge suggested that Sutton and Judge Deborah Cook might have wanted to push the issue on to the high court.