Barry Covert Provides WGRZ With Analysis on Federal Gay-Marriage Review

WGRZ sought out Buffalo constitutional law attorney Barry Covert to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming review of same-sex marriage. The court will begin hearing arguments in April on whether gay couples in all states should have the right to marry under the constitution. The court is then expected to issue a ruling on it in late June.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 36 states, including New York, and in Washington DC. A 2013 Supreme Court decision led to the federal government’s recognition of same-sex marriage.

Click here for full coverage of Mr. Covert’s analysis.

A uniform national approach to gay marriage

Mr. Covert, who believes the court will rule in favor of same-sex marriage, summarized the issues as “One, can states ban gay marriage? And then number two, do they have to recognize gay marriage from out of state?”

Explaining why the Supreme Court may have decided to take on this issue now, Mr. Covert said, “The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ban on gay marriage and allowed states to not recognize marriage within the states that were in the federal 6th Circuit. So the Supreme Court said apparently ‘that’s enough, we’re not going to have a split among the courts, we are going to uniformly address this issue,’ and we can really expect that they are going to uphold the gay marriage and apply to all states under the Equal Protection clause.”

Although more than 70 percent of the U.S. population lives in a state where gay marriage is legal, if a gay married couple moves to one of the states where it is not legal, the couple will find that they do not receive the same rights they had where they got married.

“Suddenly you’re treated like two individuals,” Mr. Covert said. “You can’t be at your spouse’s bedside when they’re dying because you’re not related. They don’t recognize you as such.”

An uphill battle for conservatives

And for those who oppose gay marriage?

“This is their last opportunity to win,” Mr. Covert said, “and the only way that they’re going to win is with a conservative Supreme Court. The problem with that analysis though is that conservatives believe in individual liberties. They believe in a strong family. And most of the courts across the country have said that if you believe in individual rights and individual liberties, that includes the right to choose your spouse regardless of gender.”

Mr. Covert, a member of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of constitutional law, including First Amendment and civil rights actions; New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense.