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Sweat Lodges for Prisoners, and Same Sex Marriage in Tenn. and Ky.

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on May 14, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Sixth Circuit is hearing several appeals from different states regarding the recognition of same sex marriages in other states. In Tennessee, the Sixth Circuit granted a stay of a preliminary injunction, and in Kentucky, the parties are filing appellate briefs.

And while all this same sex marriage litigation is happening, three Kentucky death row inmates just want to sweat it out.

Sweat Lodges for Prisoners?

Three death-row inmates in Kentucky are seeking to practice Native American religious ceremonies in prison, specifically they "want a sweat lodge, pow wow and traditional foods," such as buffalo meat, reports The Associated Press. In March of last year, a district court held that prison officials were "justified" in not allowing the inmates to erect a sweat lodge -- which involve fire, heated stones and infrared machines -- stating, "These concerns are magnified by the fact that inmates requesting the sweat lodge are death row inmates with violent criminal pasts who are subject to KSP highest security restrictions," reports the AP.

Last Friday, the Sixth Circuit heard oral arguments on appeal, and we are awaiting a decision.

Sixth Circuit Stays Injunction in Tennessee Case

Tennessee bans same sex marriage, but it also doesn't recognize lawful same sex marriages conducted in other states. In March of this year, the District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee granted three same-sex couples a preliminary injunction in a case where they are challenging Tennessee's Anti-Recognition Laws.

Just one month later, the Sixth Circuit granted the defendants' motion to stay the preliminary injunction, "[b]ecause the law in this area is so unsettled, in our judgment the public interest and the interests of the parties would be best served by this Court imposing a stay on the district court's order." However, the Sixth Circuit noted that they would hear the merits "without delay."

Same Sex Marriage in Kentucky

The Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear really does not want to recognize same sex marriage. After the state Attorney General declined to appeal a district court's decision overturning a state ban on the recognition of same sex marriages performed out of state, the Governor hired a private law firm.

The new angle? Declining birth rates. That is, the state is arguing that it "has a legitimate interest in encouraging procreation to support 'long-term economic stability through stable birth rates.'" If you are wondering what this has argument has to do with anything, you are not alone. Respondents have until June 9 to file their reply brief, says The Courier-Journal.

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