CINCINNATI - Should voters or the courts decide issues regarding same-sex marriage?
That's the challenge facing three federal judges after a day of oral arguments in cases from four states.
Judges from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard three hours of arguments on cases from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee on Wednesday.
Ohio's case centers on recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states – specifically, whether names of both spouses go on birth and death certificates.
Hundreds of people filled courtrooms downtown for the controversial cases.
Several Ohio same-sex couples sued the state claiming that failure to recognize their marriages performed in other states is discriminatory.
They said they didn't leave the Buckeye State to wed to avoid the law.
Instead, they did it out of love.
They were represented by civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein.
"With 40 percent -- 44 percent -- of the people in this country living in states that recognize the freedom to marry, they're going to be crossing state lines," Gerhardstein said. "Those marriages have to travel with them and I'm hopeful that the court will recognize that there's a right to have that marriage travel with you and have it recognized."
"Overall, we just want the same rights as heterosexual couples that are married," said Brittani Henry-Rodgers. "Essentially, we're all family. We all love our children very much so I just hope therefore for equality for all."
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Brittani and her spouse have a 9-week-old son and they'd like to see both their names on his birth certificate.
On the other side of the issue, Eric Murphy of the Ohio Department of Health maintained voters should decide the matter adding, "States are adopting to changing mores, but we should take a cautious approach to change. We should proceed with caution."
Gerhardstein disputed that, saying, "It's the role of the federal court to keep states from denying liberty to certain individuals. Marriage is solemn and precise and can't be just subject to vote."
Ohio voters decided in 2004 that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
The three judges from the 6th Circuit Appeals Court now have to decide whether that stands or changes.
Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage was also argued with the state saying marriage is between a man and a woman and same-sex couples claiming that's discriminatory.