Judges listen to arguments in landmark hearing on same-sex marriage

Decision will have big impact nationwide

Federal appeals court judges voiced opposing positions after hearing arguments for six cases regarding gay marriage.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati heard arguments for six cases Wednesday. Two federal appeals courts have ruled in favor of gay marriage, but the 6th Circuit Court is the first of three federal appeals courts to hear arguments from multiple states in the coming weeks, according to WCPO in Cincinnati.

Two judges, however, voiced strong opinions, according to The Associated Press. Decisions will come later, according to WCPO.

Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton questioned attorneys on whether the courts are the best place to determine a major change. Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, meanwhile, said sometimes courts must weigh in when constitutional rights are being violated, according to AP.

Sutton and Deborah I. Cook, were nominated by President George W. Bush. Daughtrey was nominated by President Bill Clinton.

Michigan Solicitor General Aaron Lindstrom said changes made to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage should be part of the political process, according to AP.

“The most basic right we have as a people is to decide public policy questions on our own,” he said according to AP.
But attorney Carole Stanyar said fundamental constitutional rights should not be subject to popular vote, according to AP.

“The Michigan marriage amendment gutted the democratic process,” she said according to AP.

The cases challenge bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. In each of the cases, a lower court has struck down bans on marriages or the recognition of marriages of same-sex couples as unconstitutional.

Supporters of lifting the bans rallied on Fountain Square in Cincinnati and have asked officers around the courthouse where they may stand to display banners or signs.

Security was tight around the courtroom, WCPO reporter Tom McKee said.

"Everyone coming into the courthouse is being screened and has to pass through a metal detector. Admission to the courtroom where the arguments will be heard is by pass only because of limited space,” McKee said.

Two additional courtrooms will have an audio feed piped in for other spectators and interested parties. Media members have been allowed to take electronics into the holding room, but once the oral arguments begin they all have to be turned off.

McKee said a U.S. Marshal came through the reporter holding room with a bomb-sniffing dog.

"Outside, officers from the Federal Protective Service are very visible and their vehicles line Walnut and Main Streets near the courthouse entrances,” McKee said.

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