Supreme Court Will Hear Four Cases Challenging Ban on Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

January 16, 2015 4:29 pm

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NEW YORK – The U.S. Supreme Court granted review of a federal appeals court ruling that upheld bans in four states on the freedom to marry and recognition of marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states. The Court granted review of petitions from all four states – Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Today’s announcement sets the stage for final resolution of the debate about marriage equality for same-sex couples nationwide.

“We are hopeful this review means we will soon be able to enjoy the rights and protections associated with marriage. Because of Paul’s cancer, the potential for an unfortunate, untimely death has worried us that I would be vulnerable to discriminatory laws that do not recognize us as a family,” said plaintiff Randy Johnson.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic are co-counsel in the two Kentucky cases, Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear, brought by lawyers at Clay Daniel Walton & Adams and the Fauver Law Office. These cases challenge Kentucky’s anti-marriage laws on the ground that they violate due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The ACLU along with Lambda Legal and Gerhardstein & Branch are also co-counsel in the Ohio case, Obergefell, et al v. Hodges.

“We are thrilled the court will finally decide this issue,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project. “The country is ready for a national solution that treats lesbian and gay couples fairly. Every single day we wait means more people die before they have a chance to marry, more children are born without proper protections, more people face medical emergencies without being able to count on recognition of their spouses. It is time for the American values of freedom and equality to apply to all couples.”

The plaintiff couples in the two lawsuits are denied the freedom to marry the person they love, and denied recognition of valid marriages entered into in other jurisdictions. From the birth of children to the death of beloved partners, same-sex couples in Kentucky are unable to enjoy the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of married life that their different-sex counterparts in Kentucky take for granted.

Paul Campion and Randy Johnson met in the summer of 1991 and have been together ever since. They live in Louisville and are raising four children together. When Paul was diagnosed with prostate cancer at 46, the family not only had to navigate the stress of his illness but was also faced with a host of legal questions about whether and how Randy would be recognized by medical providers during Paul's treatment.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled November 6, 2014 to uphold four bans in Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky on the freedom to marry and the recognition of marriages between same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions. It is the only federal circuit court after the Supreme Court’s watershed 2013 Windsor ruling to uphold such bans.

“We appreciate the opportunity to present the stories of our clients, some of whom have been in loving, committed relationships for decades,” said Daniel Canon of Clay Daniel Walton & Adams. “They like other couples in Kentucky and elsewhere, have been denied their fundamental rights for far too long. We are hopeful the Court will fully and finally invalidate the discriminatory anti-marriage laws of Kentucky and other states.”

More information about the cases is available at:

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