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Gay Marriage Cases in 5 States Offer Broad View

Thursday Jan 16, 2014
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Within the past month, federal judges in Oklahoma and Utah have ruled that states, and their voters, cannot bar same-sex couples from getting married. As battles over gay-marriage rights move through the courts across the country, here are cases to watch in five states:

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NEVADA

A federal judge in November ruled against eight same-sex couples who were turned away when they attempted to obtain marriage licenses. The judge, appointed by President George W. Bush, said Nevada state law does not violate the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The case, Sevcik v. Sandoval, is on appeal before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

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VIRGINIA

Two cases pending in Virginia seek freedom to marry for all gay couples and recognition for same-sex couples married outside the state. Bostic v. Rainey, filed by a same-sex couple that was denied a marriage license, is set for a hearing Jan. 30. A couple married in California has joined the lawsuit, seeking recognition in Virginia of their union. A separate case, Harris v. McDonnell, was filed as a class-action lawsuit and could go to trial this spring. The federal judges in both pending cases were appointed by President Barack Obama.

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NORTH CAROLINA

A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of six gay couples in which one partner was barred from adopting the other partner’s child was amended this year to also challenge a 2012 constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage. Defending the law is a potential 2016 Democratic gubernatorial candidate who says he supports same-sex marriage but is obligated to defend state law. The judge hearing the case was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush.

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KENTUCKY

Pending before a federal judge appointed by President George H.W. Bush are two lawsuits seeking recognition of marriages conducted elsewhere. The lawyer for two men seeking recognition of the marriage in Canada is preparing a lawsuit seeking to allow gay couples to get married in Kentucky. State officials have said they have an interest in protecting "traditional marriage."

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MISSISSIPPI

A state court judge last month refused to grant a divorce to a lesbian couple married in California after Mississippi’s attorney general argued that a divorce couldn’t be granted in a marriage that isn’t recognized. An appeal is pending. Mississippi legislators in 1997 said any same-sex marriage is "null and void" from its beginning, even those created elsewhere. And in 2004, state voters banned same-sex marriage by a 6-1 margin. State judges in Mississippi are elected.

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