On July 26, 2013, we, Dawn Elliot and I(Shannon Fauver), filed the first same-sex marriage case in Kentucky. When we filed, we had not idea that our case would make it to the US Supreme Court and help change the equality movement.
When we filed the cases, we had no idea the response we would get as far as the press from around the world being so interested in the case. We filed these cases as it was the right thing to do and our clients that had been married in other States and other Countries had the right to have their marriages recognized just as any opposite-sex couple had.
The last two years have been a wild ride. After about five months we added Dan Canon, Joe Dunman and Laura Landenwich to the legal team for the cases. While this first round of cases was being litigated, we had been contacted by other couples who wanted to be able to get married in Kentucky, as they live here.
So in February of 2014, on Valentine’s Day, we were planning on filing another suit which would allow same-sex couples to be married in Kentucky. As it worked out, Judge John Heyburn ruled on the first set of cases on February 12, 2014 so instead of filing a new case, we added plaintiffs to the case in front of the Judge as that made the most sense as he was already familiar with the case at that point.
So on February 14, 2014 the Love Plaintiffs joined the case.
We also won that case and the state of Kentucky appealed to the 6th Circuit. At that time, the 6th Circuit was the only Federal Circuit that had cases from all states at the same point in the process. In August of 2014, the 6th Circuit heard arguments from Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan. And then we waited and waited until November of 2014. But the time the 6th Circuit ruled on our cases, 37 States were recognizing same-gender marriage.
People had asked the US Supreme Court to hear some of the other cases, but as all the cases were coming down on the same side, there was no reason for the US Supreme Court to hear the cases at that point. Then our cases were ruled on the 6th Circuit upheld the bans against same-gender marriage. The teams from all 4 States involved decided to ask the US Supreme Court to hear the cases. So within ten days all 4 State’s gal teams had to put together the petition for the US Supreme Court to hear the cases.
The US Supreme Court could have chosen to hear one States, two States, three States, 4 States or none of the States and denied the petitions to be heard. Now, the Kentucky case is the only one that asked for the recognition of marriage and the right to marry. If it wasn’t for that, the US Supreme Court would not have had both issues in front of it this year. While the prevailing wisdom at the time said not to ask for too much and not to file in Kentucky at all, we decided to ask for it all. Worst case scenario, we are in the same place we were before we filed. Best case scenario is what ended up happening that we changed the world for all Americans.
What happened next was that the US Supreme Court decided to hear all 4 States together on one day, April 28, 2015. Then more waiting and on June 26, 2015 (exactly two years since the Windsor case that started this set of cases going), the US Supreme Court said that States have to recognize same-sex marriage and allow same-sex marriage. They stated that marriage is a fundamental right that is allow to all (and building on older cases) regardless of your race or gender.
I for one am glad that we didn’t listen and asked for it all.