The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday June 29th

Court upholds state gay marriage bans

Lawmakers have appealed the ruling invalidating the ban.

The 6th Circuit covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, and all of their bans were upheld. As a result, Senator-elect Thom Tillis and N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger on Friday appealed to the 4th Circuit to reverse the North Carolina decision that legalized gay marriage.

Advocacy groups have decried the decision, including the American Civil Liberties Union chapters of Ohio and Tennessee, as well as Equality Michigan and the Fairness Campaign, a Kentucky LGBT rights advocacy group.

“If any court was going to get it wrong, it was the 6th Circuit,” said Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign.

Hartman said he is disappointed by the decision, but the 6th Circuit has a high rate of overturn from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Advocacy groups who brought the cases to the 6th Circuit have vowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

UNC law professor Maxine Eichner said the decision is more likely to go to the Supreme Court now that there is a split in the circuit courts.

“I think that there is a really good chance that they’ll take this now,” she said. “Then the question is what they’ll do with it.”

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Oct. 6 not to hear several cases declaring gay marriage bans unconstitutional, allowing the lower courts’ decisions to stand. A North Carolina judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban four days later.

Lisa Wurm, policy manager of Ohio’s ACLU, said she felt the high court’s lack of a decision indicates its support of same-sex marriage.

“Part of why we think the (6th Circuit) decision was misguided is we feel a message was sent to the lower courts, and that message was not received,” she said.

The ACLU chapters in North Carolina and Tennessee said in separate statements they felt the decision was misguided for the same reason.

Eichner said because the Supreme Court never made a decision, Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the 6th Circuit, who wrote the majority opinion, was legally correct.

But she said a reversal of the 6th Circuit decision is likely because the political makeup of the Supreme Court favors LGBT rights, and it would be impractical for justices to reverse their stance from early October.

“The court refused to hear same-sex marriage cases in these other circuits, knowing what its denial of review would do to same-sex marriage in those states,” Eichner said.

“Now we have many states that are allowing same-sex marriage,” she added. “It will be very difficult to put the toothpaste back into the tube at this point.”

This online timeline was compiled by Assistant Online Editor Kelsey Weekman.

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