Author: Ryan Goellner, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review
Since the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor last summer, two questions have been on many court watchers’ minds. First, after Windsor articulated a lengthy reasoning for its decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, under what standard of review will courts evaluate laws that discriminate against same-sex couples? Second, can the standard for invalidating the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) under the Fifth Amendment be applied to States through the Fourteenth Amendment, or even be enunciated in a meaningful way? The Supreme Court’s current line of jurisprudence on constitutional problems that implicate same-sex issues necessitates that these two questions be considered and answered together, as the United States District Court in Utah did in Kitchen v. Herbert. Ultimately, the Kitchen case shows that the reasoning used in Windsor might not have been the soundest way to analyze the issues presented, and that there are alternative lines of reasoning that better support same-sex couples’ efforts to overturn state bans on gay marriage.