WASHINGTON – It’s one of the biggest cases to go before the Supreme Court in decades: the fight over same-sex marriage. On Tuesday, April 28, the justices will hear arguments involving same-sex marriage bans from 4 states: Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan.
The final decision will be named after the Ohio lawsuit, which was the first to reach the justices: Obergefell v. Hodges.
Plaintiff Jim Obergefell wants his legal Maryland marriage to be recognized on his husband’s Ohio death certificate.
“It’s my way to live up to my promises that I made to him over time,” Obergefell said. “And, when we said ‘I do’ there are promises that are built into that. I promise to love you to protect you to honor you and that’s what I am doing.”
In Kentucky, Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon are asking for their legal Canadian marriage to be recognized, and for both men to be the legal parents of their two adopted children.
“It’s the Supreme Court,” DeLeon said. “So, they can do what they want.”
Last year, in a tear-filled announcement, Jack Conway, Kentucky’s Attorney General, said he wouldn’t defend the state’s ban on gay marriage. Kentucky hired outside counsel to argue before the Supreme Court.
“I had to make a decision I could be proud of,” Conway said. “For me now, and for my daughter’s judgment in the future.”
In Tennessee, Valeria Tanco and Sophy Jesty have a child together, and want recognition of their legal New York wedding.
“One of the main reasons, other than the legal recognition of our own family was to help those that don’t have the ability to represent themselves as same-sex marriage and same-sex family,” Tanco said.
And in Michigan, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, are fighting against Michigan’s ban on adoptions by same-sex couples. They want to jointly adopt the 3 children they’re raising together.
“We did this for the protection of our children,” DeBoer said. “Jane and I do want to get married but this case is about the protection of our children. It is not about the individuals, this is not about her and my relationship, this is about ensuring that our children will remain together no matter what happens to her and I.”
The Supreme Court will first consider whether states have the obligation to perform same-sex marriages.
Then, the high court will hear arguments as to whether states are obligated to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.
A decision can be handed down at any time after the hearing but is expected at the end of the court’s term in June or early July.