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Spotlight on Cincinnati court for same-sex marriage

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans in six separate cases involving four states.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider challenges to state same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan.

So many reporters and court observers are expected the court will have two overflow rooms with live audio streaming of the oral arguments.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is appealing two local cases:

  • Obergefell, et al v. Himes

Last summer Jim Obergefell married his long-time partner John Arthur on a tarmac in Maryland. Arthur had ALS and died in October. Before he died the two filed a lawsuit and Obergefell won the right to be listed on Arthur's death certificate. WVXU reported Federal Judge Timothy Black said it was unconstitutional to single out a group of people just because they have differing views. Attorney Bridget Koontz from the Ohio Attorney General's Office argued "the court cannot go out on a legal limb." She said it could be years before this issue is settled and we "need to put the brakes on."

  • Henry, et al v. Himes

In April, three Cincinnati couples won the right to put the names of both same-sex parents on the birth certificates of their then unborn babies. Another New York couple who adopted a baby in Ohio was also part of the lawsuit. Federal Judge Timothy Black decided Ohio's same sex marriage recognition ban will remain in place while his decision is being appealed. That means same-sex couples cannot go to other states, get married, and have those marriages recognized in Ohio during the appeal of this case. The exception is the four couples who sued. Their marriages will be recognized and their names will go on the birth certificates of their children.

Kentucky's two cases:

  • Bourke, et al v. Beshear - four couples are suing for their out-of-state marriages to be recognized
  • Love, et al v. Beshear- this case seeks the right for same-sex couples to marry in Kentucky

The other cases in court Wednesday:

  • Tanco, et al v. Haslam - four couples in Tennessee are suing for their out of state marriages to be recognized
  • DeBoer, et al v. Snyder - seeks the right for same-sex couples to marry in Michigan

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.