SALT LAKE CITY — Three states so far have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the legality of same-sex marriage, and the plaintiffs in each case who won in lower courts want the same thing.
Winning couples in Oklahoma and Virginia filed briefs Wednesday asking the court to take up the issue, even though district and appellate courts have ruled in their favor. Plaintiffs in the Utah case said earlier this month they're supporting the state's petition to the Supreme Court. Their brief is due next week.
Both sides in Utah argue Kitchen v. Herbert is the ideal vehicle for the high court to decide the issue once and for all, partly because it not only addresses whether same-sex marriage is constitutional but whether marriages already performed should be recognized.
Lawyers for couples in Virginia contend that "given the critical importance of this issue to plaintiffs and to hundreds of thousands of other gay men and lesbians across the country — as well as to their children and extended families — this court’s review is acutely needed to settle the question."
In the Oklahoma cases, attorneys for the plaintiffs wrote, "The time has come for this court to decide whether state laws denying same-sex couples the right to marry should be discarded into the same ash heap of history."
All three states want the Supreme Court to take their cases in its October term. The justices will start sifting petitions Sept. 29. It takes the vote of four justices for the court to accept a case.
Utah was the first state to ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on same-sex marriage. But that doesn't mean the court will hear its case. It could take another state's case, combine cases or wait for more appellate rulings before making a decision.
A number of amicus or friend-of-the-court briefs are expected to be filed in the next week. Attorneys for the state and the plaintiffs have already agreed to any amicus briefs filed on behalf of either side that support the Supreme Court hearing the case.
If the court decides to take Utah's case or another case, lawyers for the parties would file another round of written arguments and replies. Oral arguments wouldn't likely come until mid winter or spring of 2015. The justices would issue a ruling by the end of June.