Author: Ryan Goellner, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review
With recent narrow decisions in two federal lawsuits challenging state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, federal judges in Ohio and Kentucky have propelled the Sixth Circuit to the vanguard of interpreting the Supreme Court’s recent decision in United States v. Windsor. The two district court judges not only utilized the constitutional momentum generated by Windsor to chip away at and severely curtail those amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage, but also essentially invited the Sixth Circuit to review their respective decisions and to reexamine its own jurisprudence on sexual orientation in light of Windsor. In one respect, the results in these lawsuits mirror many federal courts’ recent decisions in similar cases. More importantly, however, these cases illustrate the struggle to wade through Windsor’s unclear standard of review, the intricate legal hoops through which district courts are jumping in post-Windsor lawsuits, and the building bottoms-up pressure for the Federal Courts of Appeals to assist in Windsor’s interpretation and application.