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Kentucky's Same-Sex Marriage Case Will Be Argued Wednesday Afternoon

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A three-judge federal appeals panel Wednesday afternoon hears oral arguments in same-sex marriage cases from four states including Kentucky, and one legal observer says their decision could prove "pivotal."The case has a chance to eventually be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor following the cases, told WFPL on Wednesday. Two other appeals courts have taken up the same-sex marriage issue and affirmed lower-court rulings striking down bans. But Tobias said the 6th Circuit could rule differently because of the judges who sit on the panel, making it more likely to be picked up by the Supreme Court."It’s more likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear it, just because it’s difficult to tolerate inconsistency throughout the country," Tobias said.Kentucky's case began withsame-sex couples seeking state recognition for their out-of-state marriages; it was consolidated with a case filed by same-sex couples seeking to be married in Kentucky. Related: WFPL's past coverage of the same-sex marriage casesEarlier this year, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn issued an opinion that Kentucky's 2004 same-sex marriage ban violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. He stayed an order that the state must recognize those marriages.The Kentucky case was appealed by Gov. Steve Beshear. The other cases heard Wednesday by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals come from Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.The Kentucky case will be argued byLeigh Gross Latherow for the state and Laura Landenwich for the couples.The appeals court will likely not issue a ruling for a couple months—Tobias saidto look for it sometime in the fall. The most that can be determined on Wednesday will guesswork on how the judges may view, judged from their questions, he said.Oral arguments begin at 1 p.m. Kentucky Public Radio's Jonathan Meador is in Cincinnati and will have updates Wednesday afternoon.Kentucky Public Radio's Jonathan Meador and WFPL's Joseph Lord contributed to this story.