Federal judges in Cincinnati to hear historic marriage equality arguments

People rally in downtown on Tuesday evening. (FOX19 Jody Barr)
People rally in downtown on Tuesday evening. (FOX19 Jody Barr)

Cincinnati, OH (FOX19) - A historic hearing of six cases in four states, all dealing with the right to marry, are front and center Wednesday afternoon in Cincinnati.

Nearly 44 percent of the country's population lives in a state with legalized same-sex marriage.  19 states, as well as Washington, D.C., allow gay marriage.

Another 14 states have issued rulings in favor of gay marriage, which are currently working their way through the courts, including Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.  Those cases will be heard in Cincinnati on Wednesday by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse downtown.

What does it all mean?

For Ohio and Kentucky, it could uphold rulings recognizing same-sex marriages, and perhaps set a precedent if the arguments eventually make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court as the marriage equality debate continues.

"It's not gay rights.  It's human rights.  It's civil rights that we're talking about," said Dayna Foster of Dayton at a rally in Cincinnati on Tuesday.

Foster and her partner were married last year in Washington, D.C.  Their marriage is recognized there, but not at home in Ohio.

"It pains us that our marriage is not recognized in the state of Ohio.  I think this is another step in the right direction toward getting marriage equality," said Foster.

It's the same problem Greg Bourke is dealing with.  He's from Kentucky, and a suit he filed challenging the ban in his state is on the docket tomorrow.

"I'm a native Kentuckian.  I love Kentucky, as does my husband.  We really want to see our state change to be more welcoming and inclusive of LGBT people," said Bourke.

The panel of federal judges will not only take up arguments from Ohio and Kentucky, but from decisions in Michigan and Tennessee, as well.

"This is a Hail Mary pass.  They're looking at this as if they can get this, and get it up through the Supreme Court, then it would mandate their side, same-sex marriage, for all 50 states," said Charles Tassell of Citizens for Community Values.

Earlier this year, judges ruled to recognize same-sex marriages on both sides of the river. 

"Our hope is that the definition of marriage will remain and stay strong as one man and one woman as defined," Tassell told FOX19.

As the old saying goes, "There are two sides to every story."

Each of those sides hopes for a different outcome after the hearings tomorrow afternoon.

 "I would ask these three judges to consider that, if we love each other, we should have the right to be married and to have our marriage recognized," said Foster.

Follow FOX19NOW.com Wednesday for full coverage of the 6th Circuit Court hearings.

Copyright 2014 WXIX. All rights reserved.