WASHINGTON (AP) — Same-sex couples seeking the right to marry are asking the Supreme Court to settle the issue of gay marriage nationwide.
Appeals being filed Friday urge the justices to review last week's lower court ruling that upheld anti-gay marriage laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
The ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, was the first appellate ruling to side with states seeking to preserve gay marriage bans since the Supreme Court struck down part of a federal anti-gay marriage law last year.
Last month, the justices rejected appeals from five states of rulings favoring same-sex couples, but that was before the recent ruling created a division among lower courts.
Same-sex couples can marry in 32 states, parts of Kansas and Missouri, and the District of Columbia.
The Kentucky and Michigan cases involve the right of sex-same couples to marry. The Ohio appeal focuses on the state's refusal to recognize out-of-state gay marriages because of its own ban, while the Tennessee case is narrowly focused on the rights of three same-sex couples.
In asking the Supreme Court to reverse the 6th circuit, the plaintiffs in Ohio pressed the argument that states should be forced to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The 6th circuit ruling "robs married same-sex spouses and their children of dignity and legal respect from cradle to grave," Cincinnati attorney Al Gerhardstein wrote.
Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, said lawyers for the state would review the appeal. "The Ohio Attorney General's Office had previously stated that it did not anticipate opposing a Supreme Court review of the same-sex marriage issue," Tierney said.
The speed with which the appeals are being filed — eight days after the ruling — indicates the court could take up and decide the issue this term, by the end of June.
The states have a month to respond. If they don't seek extra time, the gay marriages cases should be before the justices for their first private conference in 2015, on January 9. If the court decides then to hear the cases, there should be time to schedule arguments in late April. The justices would have two months to write their opinions.
Associated Press writer Lisa Cornwell contributed to this report from Cincinnati.