A federal appeals court is set to rule on the constitutionality of bans on same-sex marriage across Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee – deciding to hear all of the cases together.
Those four states make up the judicial Sixth Circuit – one of 13 such legal circuits across the United States.
A three judge panel will hear arguments in five cases from the four states from 6 August and is likely to rule on the issue before year’s end.
If the court finds those states’ bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional then opponents would only have the Supreme Court of the United States left to appeal to and that court has already struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.
Appealing these cases to the Supreme Court would be a risky tactic for opponents because there is a chance the Supreme Court judges could decide to declare bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional across the United States and effectively legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
Ohio’s attorney general has pledged to defend his state’s ban on same-sex marriage in the courts, while Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has had to resort to hiring private lawyers after his own attorney general refused to defend his state’s ban.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has said his government will not recognize around 300 marriages that were performed during a brief legal window in March, and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has expressed displeasure at a court ruling striking down his state’s voter passed 2006 ban on gay couples marring.