After rejecting multiple states’ pleas to review a rash of federal court decisions striking down bans on same-sex “marriage,” the United States Supreme Court has agreed to consider reviewing a more recent decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld such bans in Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. The court will also consider whether to review a district court ruling upholding Louisiana’s ban.
Most judicial observers believe the high court previously declined to hear arguments on the same-sex “marriage” issue because at the time, there was no difference of opinion among the various appellate courts – all had ruled in favor of redefining marriage to include homosexual couples. Now that the 6th Circuit has issued a contradictory opinion, however, the high court must decide whether to settle the dispute. The justices will meet January 9 to decide whether they will do so.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, a Republican, has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court asking them to wait until Idaho’s case comes before them to make any decisions. Otter said he believes Idaho’s marriage law – which was struck down by the 9th Circuit and is currently pending a rehearing – is the “best vehicle” for deciding the same-sex “marriage” issue once and for all, because it addresses “the marriage-litigation wave in all respects.”
According to Otter, the Idaho case includes the question of both in-state marriages and recognition of out-of-state marriages, challenges the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ application of a heightened standard of scrutiny for discrimination based on sexual preference, and specifically addresses religious liberty issues.
Warning the justices of “the enormous societal risks accompanying a genderless-marriage regime,” Otter wrote, “Common sense and a wealth of social-science data teach that children do best emotionally, socially, intellectually and economically when reared in an intact home by both biological parents.”
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has denied a request by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to extend a stay of a district court ruling overturning the state’s gay “marriage” ban pending appeal. That ruling was made August 21 by Judge Robert Hinkle, a Clinton appointee who said the ban was unconstitutional. Hinkle stayed his own ruling through January 5 in order to give the state a chance to appeal, but the 11th Circuit has yet to hear arguments in the case.
The Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene means same-sex “marriages” will begin in Florida on January 6, but it is unclear how many couples will be affected by the ruling. On Tuesday, Washington County Clerk Lora Bell filed a motion for clarification.
“The Clerk requests clarification as to whether the Injunction requires that the Clerk only issue marriage licenses to Stephen Schlairet and Ozzie Russ as specifically set forth in the Injunction, both of whom are parties to this matter, or if the Injunction requires that the Clerk issue marriage licenses to all same-sex couples who apply once the stay expires at the end of the day on January 5, 2015,” Bell’s attorneys wrote Hinkle.
On Wednesday, Hinkle passed the buck to state officials, ordering them to respond to Bell by Monday.