As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments Tuesday that could wind up legalizing gay marriage nationwide, dozens of Christian leaders have issued a call to civil authorities to preserve "the unique meaning of marriage in the law" -- but also to "protect the rights of those with differing views of marriage."
Same-sex marriage in the United States
When it takes up same-sex marriage cases from four states April 28, the Supreme Court will officially be considering just two constitutional questions.
But judging from the outpouring of friend-of-the-court or "amicus" briefs, the court is expected to affect the very definition of marriage in American society.
Analysis: The Supreme Court will decide whether to allow same-sex marriage nationwide later this year and there is little doubt which way it's leaning.
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear four cases over the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, tackling the questions of whether the 14th Amendment requires states to allow such marriages and whether it requires them to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states.
The same-sex marriage movement lost its first major case in a federal appeals court Thursday after a lengthy string of victories, creating a split among the nation's circuit courts that virtually guarantees review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 2-1 ruling from the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed lower court rulings that had struck down gay marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
A U.S. District Court judge's ruling that Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional "overturns the will of Arizona voters and reflects a misunderstanding of the institution of marriage," the state's Catholic bishops said Friday.
"For centuries, marriage has been recognized as the lifelong union of a man and a woman that benefits the common good by respecting the unique and complementary gifts of both a mother and a father in the lives of children," they said.
After the Supreme Court on Monday declined to review rulings overturning five states' bans on same-sex marriage, several U.S. bishops criticized the court's inaction and reiterated that according to church teaching, traditional marriage is a union between one man and one woman.
Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley said the court's failure to review the Circuit Court decisions was "deeply disappointing."
The Supreme Court refused to get involved in the national debate over same-sex marriage on Monday, leaving intact lower court rulings that will legalize the practice in 11 additional states.
The unexpected decision by the justices, announced without further explanation, immediately affects five states in which federal appeals courts had struck down bans against gay marriage: Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Utah.
It's no coincidence that victors rarely ask for a rematch. When you've won, traditional wisdom says, walk away.
But for the Utah couples attempting to topple a state ban on same-sex marriage once and for good, there will be no turning back until their case -- or one like it -- lands at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lawyers for the three plaintiff couples announced Thursday that they will join with Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes in calling for the Supreme Court to hear their case.
It's an unusual move.
Utah asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to issue an emergency order that would prevent the state from recognizing the marriages of thousands of gay and lesbian Utahns, because the state believes it will ultimately prevail in its fight to revive a ban on such unions.
If it does, the state wrote, Utah will do "everything possible" to enforce the law. That means effectively nullifying the more than 1,000 unions gay and lesbian Utahns entered into during a 17-day window when such weddings were legal.