Six challenges to gay marriage bans and restrictions in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee are before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided to hear all of them in one session Wednesday in one of the most important days yet in the wave of legal efforts around the country to overturn marriage bans.
Cincinnati attorney Al Gerhardstein, who won federal court rulings against Ohio's ban in two cases being appealed by the state, says it will be "a historic day for Cincinnati," not only for hosting the court cases, but also for spotlighting changes in the city.
"Cincinnati can offer some reassurance to people that once they get used to the idea that same-sex people get equal rights, the sky doesn't fall," Gerhardstein said. "We simply have a more diverse city."
A same-sex marriage opponent who championed the repealed charter amendment questioned how historic the arguments will be, saying the issue will eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Phil Burress, leader of the Citizens for Community Values organization based in suburban Sharonville, said the cases seek to overturn popular votes - Ohioans approved the same-sex marriage ban in a 2004 statewide vote - and usurp states' rights.