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US Supreme Court Hears Marriage Equality Arguments with Utah Origin

Whittney Evans
Plaintiffs Moudi Sbeity, Derek Kitchen embrace at a press conference after the 10th Circuit Courts ruling in June last year.

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on whether states can legally ban same sex marriage.

Carl Tobias is at the University of Richmond School of Law. He says the current battle over marriage equality started in Utah with the Kitchen v. Herbert decision by Judge Robert Shelby in December 2013.

“And then there was a wave of rulings all of which were pretty similar to his, both at the district and appellate level including the 10th Circuit,” says Tobias, “basically finding the bans were unconstitutional.”

The justices heard a case from the 6th Circuit Court of appeals, which upheld state bans on gay marriage. Tobias says the justices could rule that states should let voters decide.

“There were questions to that affect, and especially from Justice Kennedy who’s considered to be in the middle of the court,” Tobias says, “and the likely vote the petitioners need to get.”

He’s cautious but Tobias says it’s likely the High Court will rule for the plaintiffs and same sex couples can continue to marry in Utah and 35 other states…

“But [you] can never tell based on oral arguments,” says Tobias, “It’s very difficult to discern exactly what might happen.”

Tobias says the decision will probably be the last the Supreme Court makes this term which ends in June.

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