Supreme Court to Hear Gay Marriage Cases

The United States Supreme Court announced earlier today that it will hear two cases concerning gay marriage.

Whenever a case makes its way to the Supreme Court, the court decides whether or not it will hear the case or let the lower court ruling stand. In these two cases concerning the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, which was a ban on gay marriage that passed in California a few years ago, the Supreme Court has decided that it will hold hearings on the cases and issue a ruling of its own.

While many people are already second-guessing what the Court might do regarding these two laws, I don’t think that’s particularly useful. The Court has always been unpredictable and could be this time, as well. We will have to wait and see what ruling they hand down later this year.

A Yahoo News article concerning today’s announcement reads in part:

The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will decide two major gay marriage cases next year that could have a sweeping impact on the rights of same-sex couples to wed. The cases, which likely won’t be decided until June, mark the first time the justices will consider arguments for and against same-sex marriage.

The court will review California’s gay marriage ban, which passed in a 2008 ballot initiative months after the California’s high court had legalized same sex unions and thousands of gay Californians had already tied the knot. Two federal courts have struck down Prop. 8 as discriminatory, leaving the Supreme Court to render a final judgment.

The justices will also hear a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed under President Bill Clinton that prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages. Windsor v. United States was brought by Edith Windsor, a resident of New York who paid $363,000 in estate taxes after her wife died because the federal government did not recognize their marriage. New York is one of nine states (and the District of Columbia) where gay marriage is legal, so Windsor argues that the federal government is discriminating against her by not recognizing her state-sanctioned marriage.

The Obama administration decided last year to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, so Congress has hired outside counsel to argue on behalf of the law. Recently, two federal appeals courts had struck down the law as unconstitutional, virtually requiring the Supreme Court to take the case to settle the dispute between the courts and Congress. (Read more here.)

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  • Bill S

    When I look at the Roman Catholic Church, I think of the parable of the Good Shepherd. Today we have the Pope and bishops as the shepherds and the Catholic populace as the sheep. In the case of same-sex marriage, I can’t help but believe that the shepherds have gone through great lengths to misguide the sheep.

    I don’t know how much money the Catholic Church spent opposing same sex marriage, but I am sure it could have been more well spent elsewhere.

    I think we all should respect the rulings of the Supreme Court and leave it at that. In any case we should stop discriminating against gays once and for all.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Bill, you are confusing discrimination with simple reality. Gay couples, while they are real people with real needs, are not the same as a man and woman. This demand to change to law to equate the two seems to me to be more playing in to a fantasy than dealing with a reality. Marriage is the fulcrum of civilization. We are deconstructing as a society and the destruction of marriage (which homosexuals are NOT responsible for, btw) plays a huge part in this. Doing away with marriage as a set-apart institution with the fixed definition of a union between one man and one woman will, I fear, be the knock-out punch to what’s left of our already frayed and failing civilization. Rather than ending marriage as a special and set-apart union between one man and one woman, we need, if we have any survival instincts as a society left, to go the other way and work to restore it.

      Homosexual people do have needs, but this demand they’ve created to change the law to play out a fantasy of what they are not is so destructive to our society as a whole that we really do need to back off the trendy train and re-think.

      As for the Pope and Bishops, I think they are standing firm in the face of enormous pressure and attacks in doing the right thing. When you stop believing in God and His rule over us, it becomes not only easy but inevitable to acquire your values from the larger culture, which is to say, from media manipulation and propaganda. That can feel good because you are “in” with the latest social/moral trendiness. But it is like breathing smoke. It’s a killer thing to do for too long.

  • Bill S

    The Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of DOMA and Prop. 8. Admittedly, their decision will be made based on constitutionality and not on what is best for the country. The two aren’t always the same.

    When people demonstrate and vote, they are usually thinking of what’s best for them, or on a more altruistic scale, what’s best for the country, and maybe even the world. They are not considering whether something is constitutional or not. The Supreme Court justices do not have that option. So when people say they are against something that is protected under the Constitution, what they are really saying is that they are against the Constitution itself.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Bill, I think you have a rather inaccurate view of what happens at the Supreme Court. For one thing, they have the clear option of saying that they are remanding the whole issue back to the states. They’ve done it before many times. As for the Court ruling based on Constitutionality, that can be true on if other, earlier courts ruled on something else, since the SC does backtrack and overturn itself from time to time. They try to get around this by fine-slicing of definitions and the law, but in actual practice, that is what they do. Consider the rulings on the death penalty in that past 50 years. Look at the rulings on the question of corporate personhood, which go back to before the Civil War. Consider also the rulings on human personhood, which, again, go back before the Civil War.

      I could go on. And on.

      Federalizing marriage, which is clearly one option the Court has, would be as disastrous as Roe v Wade. Several states had voted to liberalize abortion before Roe, with various caveats. Then, the Court jumped in and Federalized an issue that had always been a state issue and set this whole highly destructive culture war in motion. I think a ham-handed ruling on marriage could have the same sort of consequences now. The Court needs to let the process work at the state level to resolve this. It will resolve itself if they just leave it alone.

  • Bill S

    Where are you Ted. Help me out here.

  • Bill S

    When I think of the states making decisions that effect people’s lives, I think of the events leading up to the Civil Rights Act in the 60′s. It took actions by the federal government to keep some states from discriminating against African-Americans. It seems to me that if the federal government allowed states like Oklahoma to have their way, they would deny freedoms that other Americans enjoy. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but leaving some personal freedoms in the hands of state representatives like yourself seems to be a dangerous move. Especially since you seem to care more about what Rome has to say than you do your own President and Constitution. And don’t try to make it seem like Rome is God. It isn’t. It may be to you but it isn’t to most Americans. And it wasn’t to our founding fathers either.

    This will take months. But if the Supreme Court rules against DOMA and proposition eight, people should not try to say that it is against God’s will just because Pope Benedict sees it as a threat to the future of the human race. That’s just silly.