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Federal appeals judges mull over same sex arguments

It's a waiting game now as judges in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals mull over arguments to both overturn and uphold federal decisions in same sex marriage cases. They involve decisions in four states including Ohio and Kentucky.

Nobody knows how or when the court will rule. Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan want cases overturned that grant the right to marry, recognize out of state marriages and allow same-sex parents on birth certificates and partners on death certificates.

Cincinnatian Jim Obergefell filed suit last year, winning the right to be on his husband's death certificate. He was in the courtroom Wednesday when judges were posing questions to both sides. "Well, there were certainly moments when I was very hopeful. It seemed very positive. Other moments during other questioning where I thought, Ooh, I'm not sure. So, I think it's what everyone expected, a case where there are going to be moments where you think, ok, my side's winning, other moments when you think I'm not so sure."

Kent Ostrander, the executive director of the Family Foundation, spearheaded the 2004 constitutional amendment in Ohio that banned same-sex marriage. He called it a historic day in marriage policy. "I would suggest that the people have the right to determine what their state policies are....to have one judge or even a panel of three judges just throw that out is just a violation of our core values as American people."

What the judges said:

(Judge Martha Daughtrey)

  • No reason to fuss about the legislature, the courts have already decided
  • In states where same sex marriage is allowed the sky hasn't fallen yet
  • Took 78 years for women to get the right to vote. Convincing the legislature didn't work
  • What is the rational basis for excluding people?

(Judge Jeffrey Sutton)

  • Changing hearts and minds in the community is better
  • Best way to get dignity is through the democratic process
  • An initiative is just as effective as a court decision

Judge Deborah Cook was mostly quiet during the nearly three hours it took for the arguments. After the court hearing, the Ohio contingent made itself available for interviews. Brittni Rogers and her wife were beaming as they pulled out their newborn's birth certificate with the names of both parents-something they hope all same sex couples with kids can do. Earlier this year Federal Judge Timothy Black said he would allow them and three other couples to put both same-sex parents on birth certificates.
Their attorney, Al Gerhardstein says from birth to death same sex couples are being discriminated against. "And this whole notion that this issue of recognizing people engaged in same sex marriage should totally be dependent on the vote of the people runs contrary to every civil rights principle in the nation's history."

Both sides agree the issue is not going away and expect the U.S. Supreme Court will address it. In the next two months the 5th, 7th and 9th Circuit Courts will also hear  same-sex marriage cases. Another Cincinnati lawsuit is on hold until the 6th Circuit issues it's ruling. That case asks for the right to get married in Ohio.