Kentucky: Bourke v. Beshear & Love v. Beshear
On February 12, 2014, in the case Bourke v. Beshear, District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that the state of Kentucky must respect the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states. However, on March 18, 2014, Governor Steve Beshear filed an appeal. Shortly after this, the same federal judge who ruled that Kentucky's marriage ban is unconstitutional granted two same-sex couples a motion to intervene in the case. Under its new name, Love v. Beshear, this case will see the inside of the Supreme Court on April 28, 2015.
Michigan: DeBoer v. Snyder
On March 21, 2014, District Court Judge Bernard Friedman ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in DeBoer v. Snyder, striking down the marriage ban for same-sex couples. This case was filed on behalf of a same-sex plaintiff couple seeking to marry in Michigan and jointly adopt their children. More than 300 couples were able to marry the next day before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state's request for a stay on the ruling. Governor Snyder and the Attorney General appealed the ruling to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. On November 6, 2014 the court ruled against the freedom to marry.
On December 23, 2013, a federal judge in the sixth circuit ruled that the state of Ohio must acknowledge the marriages of same-sex couples that are legally performed in other states for the purpose of listing surviving spouses on death certificates. This was in the case of Obergefell v. Wymyslo (now Obergefell v. Hodges). In April 2014, in a separate federal case, Henry v. Himes (now Henry v. Hodges), the same judge ruled that Ohio must respect all married same-sex couples who wed in other states for all state purposes. However, on November 6, 2015, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against these decisions.
Tennessee: Tanco v. Haslam
On March 14th, a federal judge ordered state officials to respect the marriages of three same-sex couples whose lawsuit, Tanco v. Haslam, challenges the state’s marriage ban. The judge ruled that the three plaintiff couples should have their marriages acknowledged as the lawsuit proceeds. Importantly, the recognition of legal marriages performed in other states was exclusive to the three plaintiffs in this ruling. All the same, the state of Tennessee appealed the ruling to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, and eventually the court granted the request to put the ruling on hold as it proceeds.
Earlier this month, dozens of amici briefs were filed to the U.S. Supreme Court urging the court to rule in favor of marriage equality. One of the briefs filed was signed by nearly 400 major American companies, including 40 of the Fortune 100 companies. In the brief, employers argue that the patchwork of marriage laws across the country cause them great financial burdens and impede their ability to administrate effectively. Some notable signers were Apple, Facebook, General Mills, Google, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo.
Another brief was filed by religious groups, organizations, and leaders, including nearly 2,000 individual clergy, representing all 50 states. The brief included more than a dozen Bishops of The Episcopal Church in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee; General Synod of the United Church of Christ; Jewish Theological Seminary; Lutheran Bishop William Gafkjen; and Retired United Methodist Bishops C. Joseph Sprague and Melvin G. Talbert.
More than 300 conservative and Republican leaders also filed a historic brief stating that marriage equality is a conservative value that strengthens the institution of marriage, including GLAAD Board Member Meghan McCain; Kenneth B. Mehlman; Senator Mark Kirk; United States Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; and Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.
Other briefs include the Obama administration and Department of Justice, 167 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 44 U.S. Senators, more than 200 law enforcement officers and first responders.
These potential landmark cases follow years of steady momentum, from increasing public support, exhibited by four referendum victories in 2012, to the Court itself, which denied petitions in five marriage cases that resulted in eleven states legalizing gay marriage.
The strategy to win marriage for same-sex couples has always had an endgame: a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court. In just a little over a year, there have been 65 rulings in favor of marriage for same-sex couples. April 28, 2015 will mark a monumental moment in US history: these four cases from Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee will affect the entire nation. SCOTUS will answer whether same-sex couples everywhere in the United States can marry.
Polls continue to show growing, widespread support for marriage equality in the United States. According to an April 2015 Washington Post-ABC News Poll, a record-high 6 in 10 Americans support marriage equality, saying individual states should not be allowed to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. A February 2015 poll from CNN/ORC found that 63% of Americans believe that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. The poll also showed that there is a majority support for marriage in every region of the country, as well as majority support in every age group (with 52% of Americans over the age of 65 saying they support marriage for same-sex couples and 70% of respondents under 50).
In the same month, in a poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, it was found that 60 percent of Americans favor gay marriage, while 37 percent oppose it. NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey found that 59% of Americans favor gay marriage, while 33% oppose it. These fairly consistent numbers show us that the cultural needle is moving toward acceptance.
Further, the CNN/ORC poll tracked unprecedented levels of support for marriage in every region of the country, with support at 67% in the West, 60% in the Midwest, 70% in the Northeast, and a record 57% in the South.
What's more, extensive poll findings from the Pew Research Center from June of 2013 shows that 72 percent of Americans believe that the constitutional right to gay marriage is inevitable.
States with Marriage Equality
Since May of 2004, thirty seven states have granted citizens the freedom to marry.
Only 11 states still have marriage equality bans on the books: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. However, all of these bans are actively being challenged in court, and most have already been declared unconstitutional by at least one court.
Equality for Business
As support among the general population increases, hundreds of companies, corporations and organizations have come out for marriage equality. In fact, nearly 400 major U.S. companies, including 40 of the Fortune 100 companies, signed a brief making the business case for marriage. Among the many signatures are The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., Microsoft Corporation, PepsiCo, and Wells Fargo & Company.
Individual businesses have also taken stands over the years in several states where a marriage equality bill was introduced in the legislature or put to a ballot vote.
Faith Leaders Support Marriage for All
Across many denominations, faith leaders have come out in support of marriage equality. A broad range of religious groups, organizations, and leaders, including 2000 clergy members, have signed a brief arguing in favor of marriage for same-sex couples. The signers represent people of faith living in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Marriage Equality is a Bipartisan Issue
Marriage equality has seen growing support across political party lines. A February 2014 poll from The Washington Post/ABC News certainly captures this truth, with 40% of Republicans favoring marriage for same-sex couples, with 23% strongly supportive. A 2013 poll tracks support among Republicans and GOP-leaning Independents ages 18-49 at 52%.