Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Denver-based appeals court again takes on same-sex marriage

For the second time in about a week, a federal appeals court in Denver wrestled Thursday with the question of same-sex marriage, this time in a case from Oklahoma. Last week, the same group of judges heard an appeal on a similar case from Utah.

Though the cases are separate, the issue the court is being asked to decide is essentially the same in each. Both cases revolve around lower federal court rulings that struck down state same-sex marriage bans approved by voters. The cases pit the constitutional rights of individuals to marry against the states' view of what voters want.

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to hand down separate rulings in the cases, but the issue of same-sex marriage is likely to head to the U.S. Supreme Court, which touched off the current round of legal fighting when it struck down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year.

In essence, the high court ruled that same-sex marriage must be treated the same way as heterosexual marriage where federal laws are concerned, though it stopped short of legalizing same-sex marriages.

In December, a federal judge struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, a ban approved by about 66 percent of voters in 2004. More than 1,000 same-sex couples married before the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on the ruling in January.

Then in January, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern of Tulsa issued a similar ruling using the same reasoning that a state ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution's equal-protection clause. Oklahoma's ban was approved by 76 percent of the voters, also in 2004.

The three-judge panel that heard the Oklahoma case Thursday comprised the same judges who heard Utah's appeal last Thursday. Based on their questions, they appear to be split, asking attorneys about whether the state can ban gay marriages and about the discrimination issue.

U.S. Circuit Judge Jerome A. Holmes, an appointee of President George W. Bush, is considered the likely swing vote, and he asked whether Utah's same-sex marriage ban was similar to Virginia's former ban on interracial marriage. That ban was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court almost five decades ago.

A federal court recently cited that argument to allow same-sex marriages in Virginia. That case is also being appealed.

Denver-based appeals court again takes on same-sex marriage 04/17/14 [Last modified: Thursday, April 17, 2014 11:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Senator Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa
  2. Video: How to make a Gin and Jam cocktail

    Bars & Spirits

    Looking for an easy cocktail to make at home this summer? Jam is a simple, low-key way to get the job done.

  3. Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala, far right, said she was "very well pleased" with her lawyer's case. "I violated no laws." [STEVE BOUSQUET | Times]
  4. PSTA foresees no cutbacks in bus service through 2021


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority budget unveiled the first look at next year's budget on Wednesday and the agency said it does not project any cuts to bus service through 2021.

    A Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus leaves the terminal at  3180 Central Ave. in St Petersburg in 2014. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  5. Rubio: Critics distorting facts on Senate health care bill


    Sen. Marco Rubio this morning defended the Senate GOP health care proposal -- though still not saying definitively he's in support -- and accused critics of distorting facts about the number of people who could lose coverage.