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Gay marriage ruling means high court review likely

November 7, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) — The expanding legal acceptance of same-sex marriage in the United States hit a roadblock on Thursday when a federal appeals court panel upheld anti-gay marriage laws in four states, making it more likely that the Supreme Court will take up the issue.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel that heard arguments on gay marriage bans or restrictions in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee on Aug. 6 split 2-1.

The ruling concluded that states have the right to set rules for marriage and that such change as expanding a definition of marriage that dates “back to the earliest days of human history” is better done through political processes.

Cincinnati attorney Al Gerhardstein, who represented gay plaintiffs in two cases in which he gained lower-court victories, said he will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The president of pro-gay marriage group Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson, blasted the ruling as “on the wrong side of history.”

He called it “completely out of step with the Supreme Court’s clear signal last month, out of step with the constitutional command as recognized by nearly every state and federal court in the past year, and out of step with the majority of the American people.”

In October, the Supreme Court surprisingly turned away appeals from five states seeking to uphold their marriage bans, even with the gay couples who won in the lower courts joining with the states to ask for high court review.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained in the weeks before the court’s denial of those appeals that the lack of a split in the appellate courts made Supreme Court review of the issue unnecessary.

The ruling followed more than 20 court victories for supporters of same-sex marriage since the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year. A federal judge in Louisiana recently upheld that state’s ban, but four U.S. appeals courts ruled against state bans.

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Associated Press writers Mark Sherman in Washington and Brett Barrouquere in Louisville contributed.

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