The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] on Thursday upheld [opinion, PDF] same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that a change in the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman should come from the legislative process rather than the courts:
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 the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.
The ruling reversed lower court decisions from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee [JURIST reports] that had struck down same-sex marriage bans or ordered recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages.
Thursday’s ruling creates a circuit split, as the US Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Circuits [JURIST reports] have ruled same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Last month the US Supreme Court [official website] declined to hear [JURIST report] seven pending same-sex marriage cases, allowing those appeals court rulings to stand and effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in several states. The challengers in the Sixth Circuit could now seek a rehearing by the full appeals court or could appeal to the Supreme Court, where four of nine justices would have to agree to hear the appeal.