WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is set to hear historic arguments in cases that could make same-sex marriage the law of the land.
The justices are meeting Tuesday to offer their first public comments in the dispute over whether states can continue defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, or whether the Constitution gives gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.
The court is hearing extended arguments, scheduled to last 2½ hours, which also will explore whether states that do not permit same-sex marriage must nonetheless recognize such unions from elsewhere.
Same-sex couples can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
The cases before the court come from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, four of the 14 remaining states that allow only heterosexual marriage.
The case actually originated here in Ohio and involves a man from Cincinnati named Jim Obergefell. His name wasn’t allowed on his spouse’s death certificate.
In a statement released Tuesday, Obergefell said in part:
“We promised to care for and protect each other in our vows and this fight is a fulfillment of my promise to him.
Our home state does not recognize our marriage and because of that, they are fighting to remove my name from John’s death certificate. More than two decades together—thousands of days, shared with love—are not recognized by our community, our city, and our state.
We shared our lives. No one can dispute that. We shared his death, and no one will dispute that.
I know that Ohio is ready for marriage equality. Hundreds of faith and community leaders have said so. Small businesses and large corporations have said so. Cities, counties, and hundreds of public officials have said so.
The time for all loving and committed couples to have their marriages recognized is now.”