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Sixth Circuit Upholds Marriage

In the latest developments in the national conversation about marriage, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that laws in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky that define marriage as a relationship between a man and woman are constitutional.

The Court said it would be inappropriate of them to make a final determination on the issue of marriage:

“Of all the ways to resolve this question, one option is not available: a poll of the three judges on this panel, or for the matter all federal judges, about whether gay marriage is a good idea. Our judicial commissions did not come with such a sweeping grant of authority, one that would allow just three of us — just two in truth — to make such a vital policy call for the thirty-two million citizens who live within the four States of the Sixth Circuit: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.”

Finally, they concluded that the legislative arena as the better place to resolve political debates over social issues:

“In just eleven years, nineteen States and a conspicuous District, account for nearly forty-five percent of the population, have exercised their sovereign powers to expand a definition of marriage that until recently was universally followed going back to the earliest days of human history. That is a difficult timeline to criticize as unworthy of further debate and voting. When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.

For this reason, we reverse.”

This decision comes only four weeks after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of other decisions ruling that marriage is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court is far more likely to hear a case when there is disagreement among the circuit courts. Marriage now meets that criteria.

Will the Supreme Court take this case up now?  Only time will tell.

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