By Michael A. Keshmiri
Michael A. Keshmiri is a student at the University of Pennsylvania and an associate editor of the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal.
Last year, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits struck down state bans on same-sex marriage, rapidly increasing the number of states where same-sex marriages are legal.  Since the rulings of these lower level courts did not conflict, the U.S. Supreme Court, having long been reticent in definitively ruling whether bans on same-sex marriage violate the U.S. Constitution, chose not to intervene. However, on November 6, 2014, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld bans on same-sex marriage in four states, putting this decision directly at odds with rulings from its sister courts. 
The 2-1 decision in the Sixth Circuit stressed that it is up to the states to decide on the issue of same-sex marriage, not the federal courts. “Better, in this instance, we think,” wrote Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, “to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.”  Senior Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, however, issued a stern dissent reminding her colleagues that federal courts have a duty to protect the constitutional rights of the minority.