If the justices pick any of these seven same-sex marrage cases, the impact could be huge.
Yet these victories are complicated by the lack of a national legal standard on gay marriage: For now, it remains a state-level question. But that could change if the US Supreme Court steps in. Last week, the high court announced that it will review a package of seven gay-marriage cases from five states in late September when it chooses which cases to consider in their 2014-2015 term.
Legal experts say it’s likely that the court will hear at least one of the cases. “I think they’re going to take a case,” says Dale Carpenter, a professor of civil liberties law at the University of Minnesota law school. “The only question is which one. They know whichever they take, it’s going to be momentous.”
This cluster of cases centers on two key questions: All seven ask SCOTUS to consider whether a state law limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the 14th Amendment. Six of the seven cases also raise the question of whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states."I think they’re going to take a case. They know whichever they take, it’s going to be momentous."
The Supreme Court ruled on two landmark gay marriage cases in 2013: Hollingsworth v. Perry, which overturned California’s Proposition 8, and US v. Windsor, which invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act. But neither weighed in on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans, leaving the choice to allow gay marriage up to each individual state. If the court takes one of these new cases, it’s likely that its decision will have a broad and more definitive impact. “Should they decide that the 14th Amendment actually protects the rights of same-sex marriage, that would have the effect of being binding on the federal government,” says Jane Schacter, a professor at Stanford Law School.
The cases before the court involve the 14th Amendment’s guarantees to equal protection under law and due process. If the high court rules that it is a violation of either promise for one state to deny a marriage license to a same sex couple, then it would become unconstitutional for any state to do so. Any state that failed to comply with the ruling, Carpenter elaborates, “would face immediate lawsuits—a complete waste of time and money.”
It’s anyone’s guess which case (or cases) SCOTUS may choose. The justices will choose between three Virginia cases, and one each from Utah, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. Ted Olson and David Boies, the attorneys on one of the Virginia cases, successfully argued Hollingsworth v. Perry last year. The attorney on one of the other Virginia cases is Paul Smith, who has argued multiple cases before SCOTUS, including Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, which struck down state sodomy laws. Carpenter says that the cases from Utah, Indiana, or Wisconsin might prove the most comprehensive choices for the court. “Utah, Indiana, and Wisconsin involve the marriage issue and the recognition issue and the state attorney generals are fully defending those laws. You have all the elements together in those cases,” he says. “The Supreme Court might want to just take a very clean case in which you’ve got the state squarely taking the position and defending its law.”
The Supreme Court could take multiple cases or all of them. It could also consolidate cases, something the court has done in the past with hot-button issues. (For example, 1954’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education combined six desegregation cases.) “All these plaintiffs want to be the chosen one,” says Schacter. “But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they take more than one case.”
Here’s a closer look at all seven cases being considered by the court, and what’s at stake in each:
1. Herbert v. Kitchen (Utah): SCOTUS briefly dealt with this case earlier this year. In December 2013, a federal district court struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. Weddings began immediately. In January, the high court issued a temporary stay, putting a halt to marriages while the state’s appeal was considered. In June, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling that the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.
2. Smith v. Bishop (Oklahoma): First filed in 2004, this case originally sought both to overturn Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriages and to recognize marriages performed in other jurisdictions. In January, a district court judge ruled that the state’s ban is unconstitutional, but dismissed the portion of the lawsuit addressing marriages from other states, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing. Both sides appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court on both counts. In its appeal to SCOTUS, the state of Oklahoma isasking the court to rule exclusively on the marriage question.
3. Bogan v. Baskin (Indiana): This case began as three separate suits filed on behalf of a widow and 11 couples. Several plaintiffs have same-sex marriage licenses from other states that are unrecognized in Indiana. In June, a district court judge consolidated the suits into Baskin, and struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage. He did not stay the decision, allowing marriage licenses to be issued immediately. Earlier this month, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision.
4. Walker v. Wolf (Wisconsin). In February, the American Civil Liberties Union filed this case on behalf of eight same-sex couples, three of whom had married in other places. In March, a district court judge denied the state’s requests to dismiss the case. In June she ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, overturning Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage. Her ruling was unclear on whether marriages could begin or not: Still, clerks in some cities began marrying couples immediately. Earlier this month, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision.
5, 6, and 7. Rainey v. Bostic, Schaefer v. Bostic, and McQuigg v. Bostic (Virginia): These three cases are different iterations of a suit filed in July 2013 by plaintiffs Timothy Bostic and Tony London, who seek to get married in Virginia. Carol Schall and Mary Townley joined the case in September 2013. They were legally married in California in 2008, but their union is not recognized in the Old Dominion. This has made it impossible for Schall to formally adopt her own daughter. In February, a district court judge ruled on all three cases, concluding that the state’s laws barring in-state gay marriages and prohibiting recognition of out-of-state marriage licenses is unconstitutional. In July, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling. A fourth case, Harris v. Rainey, a class action suit, has been incorporated into Rainey v. Bostic.
Jim Garlow on Bryan Fischer's radio show: Same-Sex Marriages 'Violate' California Law 'Every Single Day'
California Religious Right leader Jim Garlow helped spearhead the campaign to pass Proposition 8, and doesn’t seem to be giving up on his effort to ban same-sex marriage in the state even after the anti-gay amendment was overturned by federal courts.
While speaking to Bryan Fischer yesterday, Garlow insisted that every same-sex marriage — or as he calls it, “so-called gay marriage” — is still a violation of the law.
He said that Proposition 8 “still appears in the [state] Constitution, though it is being violated every single day” by gay couples getting legally married in the state.
Hey, Mr. Garlow, Prop 8 IS DEAD!!!
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration would file a brief in support of litigation seeking marriage rights for gay couples when it returns to the Supreme Court. During a TV interview with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas that aired Sunday, Holder said filing a brief urging the court to rule in favor of marriage equality would be consistent with the administration’s action on the Defense of Marriage Act. “We are proud of what we have done,” Holder said. “If the case comes before the Supreme Court, we will file something consistent with what we have done that would be in support of same-sex marriage.” In response to a follow-up question, Holder affirmed he believes discrimination against gay people in terms of marriage is unconstitutional. “I think that’s why we decided not to support the Defense of Marriage Act,” Holder said. “When you have differentiations that are made on the basis of sexual orientation, they should be subject to heightened scrutiny. That being the case, I think a lot of these measures that ultimately will come before the Court will not survive a heightened scrutiny examination.”
As marriage equality lawsuits continue to make their way through the judicial system, observers expect the Supreme Court will return to the issue as soon as next year. Justices delivered rulings on DOMA and California’s Proposition 8 in 2013.
Following the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling affirming that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has already vowed to take up the matter with the Supreme Court.
Advocates have already welcomed the idea of the Obama administration participating in the marriage equality lawsuits. It wouldn’t be the first time the Obama administration has weighed in. The Justice Department submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of overturning Prop 8 when the issue was before the Supreme Court.
It remains to be seen whether the brief that the Justice Department will submit next to the court will call for a nationwide ruling on marriage equality. The brief submitted in the Prop 8 case endorsed the idea known as the time as the “eight-state solution” in which states with domestic partnerships or civil unions would be required to extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said he welcomes news the Obama administration would participate in marriage equality lawsuits before the court and the action is consistent with Holder’s record in favor of LGBT rights.
“The attorney general has consistently been a strong champion, faithfully upholding the Constitution’s command and putting the federal government on the side of families and freedom,” Wolfson said. “Of course, the Justice Department will find itself in good company, given the more than 20 federal and state rulings that have upheld the freedom to marry as we make our way to the Supreme Court.”
The NBA has just announced that it is banning Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling “for life” from appearing at NBA games, and from any decision regarding
The NBA also fined Sterling $2.5 million, the maximum possible under their rules.
The NBA is also going to look into forcing Sterling to sell the team.
Specifically, Sterling was banned for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA. He may not attend NBA games or practices, may not be present any Clippers facilities, and may not participate in any business or player personnel decision involving the team. He is also barred from attending NBA board of governors meetings and other activities.
They also announced that the owners have the power, through a three-quarters vote, to remove him as an owner.
As I’ve noted before, this is quite a change from where we were a month ago when conservatives, and some liberals, were defending Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, who ultimately stepped down from his new job as CEO of the Mozilla Foundation after it was revealed that he had donated $1,000 to the Proposition 8 campaign in California.
Prop 8 was a successful effort to repeal the existing civil right to marriage for gay couples, and Prop 8 was also intended to dissolve the already-performed legal marriages of 18,000 gay couples in the state.
I just find it interesting that suddenly someone’s job is no longer protected from their noxious private free speech about civil rights matters.
We’re waiting for gay conservatives, Fox News, and Brendan Eich’s other defenders to step up and write a letter supporting Donald Sterling’s right to keep his job while wishing privately to discriminate against African-Americans. That should be fun.
Fighting & WInning Against Proposition 8
On August 19, 2009, Jo Becker of the Times wrote a front-page profile of Ted Olson, the most well-known and highly regarded conservative lawyer in the country, who had filed a federal lawsuit challenging California’s Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage. Olson said that he hoped to take the argument to the Supreme Court, to seek a ruling that the Constitution guaranteed every gay and lesbian the right to marry. What’s more, Olson was joined in the lawsuit by one of the most prominent left-leaning attorneys in the country, David Boies, who had been Olson’s opposing counsel in Bush v. Gore. Boies, like Olson, is straight. Becker quoted Paul Katami, one of the gay plaintiffs in the California case, describing how Olson “put his arm around me and said, ‘We’re going to plan your wedding in a couple of years—this is going to happen.’ ”
I remember reading the story at the time and thinking, “This is clever.” A lot of people who were not in favor of same-sex marriage—or who weren’t even thinking about it, as it was only allowed in five states—might now seriously consider the issue. If two of the best lawyers in America, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, joined forces, and had resources comparable to those that they enjoyed when battling on behalf of corporate clients, it seemed like they had a real chance of convincing the Supreme Court that the Constitution did guarantee a right to marry.
The story was so intriguing to Becker that she covered it, full time, for almost five years, arranging with the plaintiffs and their lawyers to obtain unrestricted access to them during the case, on the condition that she not publish the complete story until after it was over. Her book, “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality,” will be released on Tuesday. (I was interviewed for the book.)
The book focuses on Chad Griffin, a Los Angeles political consultant, Hollywood fund-raiser, and former staffer in the Clinton White House (where he and I briefly worked together). Soon after the passage of Proposition 8, in November, 2008, the idea of hiring Olson was serendipitously suggested to Griffin by an acquaintance of one of his clients, who happened to drop in on their lunch one day at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Griffin was pained by the success of the anti-gay initiative and, like a good public-relations man, he knew better than to pass up a headline-grabbing idea. Olson, much to Griffin’s surprise, was more than eager to take up a challenge to what he regarded as the violation of a constitutionally guaranteed right to marry. Olson and Griffin decided to enlist a liberal co-counsel, to help convince gay-rights groups that their plan was not a sinister anti-gay scheme. After their first two choices declined, Boies agreed to sign on—Becker suggests that Boies liked the case from the start, in part because “its history-making potential and odd-couple story line was sure to garner huge amounts of press interest.” (The lawyers and their backers were so sure of this that they not only arranged for Becker to have behind-the-scenes access, they also had a documentary film crew and an award-winning photographer chronicle the story.)
Their strategy was simple: draw attention to the issue by featuring these new and unlikely advocates; wrap the cause in the American flag; embrace support from those who had come late to the fight; and orchestrate the whole thing like a political campaign. As we now know, this was, in many ways, a brilliant stroke, politically if not legally. The Proposition 8 lawsuit did not succeed in obtaining the broad Supreme Court ruling that Olson and Griffin had hoped for; the justices decided that their opponents didn’t have standing, and left in place a lower-court ruling overturning California’s ban. That did restore marriage rights to couples in that state; still, if that was all that the court had ruled that summer, it might have been viewed as a disappointment. But it was decided the same day as the Supreme Court’s historic decision in the case brought by Edie Windsor and her lawyer Roberta Kaplan to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Becker reports that Olson and Griffin originally considered fashioning their case as a challenge to DOMA, but did not want to pit themselves against President Obama, whose Department of Justice would have had to defend the law. Still, there is no question that the Proposition 8 case was a major factor in the shift in public opinion that laid the political groundwork for Windsor.
It was the Court’s ruling in Windsor, not the Proposition 8 case, that has become the legal basis for a number of other cases seeking full federal recognition of same-sex marriage rights, which are now working their way through the appeals courts. One or more of these cases—possibly including a new one brought by Olson and Boies—will reach the Supreme Court in a year or two. As Becker describes in considerable detail, the California case and the strategy behind it worried and angered the established gay-rights legal community, which believed that the suit was too aggressive, might precipitate a Supreme Court ruling that could set back the cause, and was liable to upset the long-gestating, incremental legal strategy already under way—not to mention that two straight corporate lawyers, Boies and Olson, would get the credit if it succeeded. Becker reports that Paul Smith, the openly gay lawyer who argued Lawrence v. Texas before the Supreme Court, turned down a request to join the case from Olson and Griffin, because he believed that their approach was too risky. There was more to that than Becker perhaps acknowledges. But the Proposition 8 argument turned out to be insightful: it anticipated a developing shift in American public opinion on this issue, while at the same time helping to accelerate it. And whatever the internal battles, other gay civil-rights groups were at least publicly supportive of it. They helped to lay that groundwork, too.
Becker’s account of the hearings, and her analysis of the complicated legal theories involved in the long appeals process, are excellent. Her writing about the four plaintiffs in the case—the true emotional heroes of this book—is particularly affecting. The book is not, however, a neutral account of what happened: it is an account as seen largely through the eyes of Griffin and Olson. It could be argued that Becker is not sufficiently careful in drawing attention to this distinction, but I think any knowledgeable reader will understand that this is the case. The book is a rather adoring narrative profile of these two men and what they went through in an effort to change history, and perhaps to make their own personal marks on it. Here are a recently “out” and fairly conservative young gay Democrat from Arkansas and a very prominent Republican attorney who symbolized the triumphant conservatism of the Bush years, joining forces to fight for gay equality.
Even before its release, the book has attracted considerable attention: an excerpt appeared in the Times Magazine, detailing Obama’s own struggle to “evolve” on the issue, which I wrote about here. Late in the book, Charles Cooper, the lawyer who argued against Olson and Boies, reveals to Becker that his daughter is a lesbian—and this tidbit was leaked to the press last week to help create more pre-publication buzz. The portrait of Cooper, whom Becker interviewed at length after the case ended, is beautifully nuanced. “My views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people’s do, and how I view this down the road may not be the way I view it now, or how I viewed it ten years ago,” Cooper told her. That kind of admission would seem to be the whole point.
For the most part, Becker does not write about participants in the campaign for marriage equality who were not directly involved in bringing the Proposition 8 case, except to highlight their skepticism about what she clearly believes was an excellent legal strategy. Indeed, a reader coming to the story only through this book would miss something important about the roles of Evan Wolfson, whose Harvard Law School thesis formed the basis for the marriage-equality movement and who has continued to be a legal and political leader on the topic; Andrew Sullivan, who gave the movement intellectual heft with his writings on gay marriage in the nineties; and Mary Bonauto, the adored lawyer for the movement who brought the first successful marriage case in Massachusetts, among many others.
Anyone who wants a complete history and overview of the gay-rights movement can read Linda Hirshman’s excellent and comprehensive “Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution,” published in 2012, or, even before that, Dudley Clendinen and Adam Nagourney’s “Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America,” published in 2001, which is still a treasure. But if you are interested in the story of how a Hollywood political consultant and a conservative lawyer joined forces in 2009, in the belief that they could really make a difference, and, no doubt, gain some notoriety for themselves and their cause, helping to dramatically change the way Americans thought of gay people and the way gay people thought of themselves—this book is for you. The real story it tells is how seemingly small moments, occurring by happenstance, when combined with boldness and imagination, can help to change the course of history. There is a moment toward the end of the book when Olson expresses some self-doubt, as he prepares to argue the case before the Supreme Court, but one of his longtime conservative friends tells him, “You’ve already won.”
Richard Socarides is an attorney and longtime gay-rights advocate. He served in the White House during the Clinton Administration and has also been a political strategist. He now oversees public affairs at GLG. Opinions expressed here are only his own. Follow him on Twitter @Socarides.
Photograph of Ted Olson by Amanda Edwards/Getty.
Source: Richard Socarides for The New Yorker
(CNN) — Utah officials will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a lower-court ruling allowing same-sex marriage in the state, the state attorney general’s office said Thursday.
Newly appointed Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes will seek a stay of the federal judge’s ruling after state officials consult first with outside attorneys over the next few days.
"It is the intent of the Attorney General’s Office to file with the Supreme Court as soon as possible," the attorney general’s office said in a statement.
The emergency appeal, when filed, would go to Justice Sonia Sotomayor because she has jurisdiction over appeals from Utah and nearby states. She could rule on the state’s application herself or ask the entire nine-member court to weigh in.
The Utah announcement comes two days after state officials lost their case in a federal appeals court, which said the state’s request for a stay wasn’t warranted and ordered the appeal process be expedited.
The appeals court’s ruling allows same-sex marriages to continue in Utah while appeals continue.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, saying the law “conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law.”
Utah voters approved a law banning same-sex marriage in 2004.
Judge Shelby’s ruling drew national attention partly because Utah is viewed as among the more conservative states and because the U.S. Supreme Court just ruled this summer on same-sex marriage.
In June, the nation’s highest court cleared the way for same-sex marriages in California to resume after it ruled private parties did not have “standing” to defend California’s voter-approved ballot measure barring gay and lesbian couples from state-sanctioned wedlock.
The U.S. Supreme Court also rejected parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a 5-4 decision, dismissing an appeal over same-sex marriage on jurisdictional grounds and ruling same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits.
Same-sex marriage is banned by constitutional amendment or state law in: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
It is legal in 17 other U.S states and the District of Columbia: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
BREAKING: #Prop8 is NO LONGER the law in #California.
BREAKING: Same-sex marriages have resumed in California, in relation to the overturning of #Prop8
BREAKING: At #SCOTUS, #Prop8 has no standing, #marriageequality reinstated in California.
As expected, SSM returns to California, Prop 8 thrown out.
ALERT: #SCOTUS will decide the fate of LGBTQ rights and marriage equality tomorrow.
Tomorrow is the last #scotus day. Same-sex marriage. History.— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 25, 2013
My p/ds: DOMA’s definitely done, while Prop 8 will either be struck down in some fashion (California-only most likely) or punted. #SCOTUS— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem) June 25, 2013
SCOTUS, your goals on the 2 big LGBTQ rights cases this week: Overturn DOMA and Prop 8.
Edie Windsor lost the love of her life in 2009. They had been together for more than 40 years. They were partners and best friends. They shared everything and honored their responsibilities to one another. Yet, in the eyes of federal law, their marriage was viewed as separate and unequal.
Edie and her late wife, Thea Spyer, are two of millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans denied their fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with their families. When Thea passed away, Edie was billed more than $363,000 in federal taxes — because, under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal government treated her and Thea as complete strangers, thereby denying them the estate tax protections afforded to married couples.
With an unaffordable tax bill and an untenable system, Edie could not remain silent, and she decided to challenge DOMA as a violation of our Constitution. Thankfully, she is not alone.
Citizens across the country have risen up to challenge DOMA, and on Wednesday I will proudly join two of those Americans, my constituents Karen Golinski and Amy Cunninghis, to hear oral arguments before the Supreme Court. They have the support of President Obama, who ordered his administration to stop defending this measure in our legal system, and members of Congress, who have signed amicus briefs reaffirming our belief in marriage equality.
The only national leaders still standing on the wrong side of history are House Republicans, who have used taxpayer dollars to pay outside counsel to defend discrimination. The Republican-approved lawyers have lost in every case and appealed each ruling. So the fight goes on.
Wednesday, Edie’s case will come before the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, justices heard oral arguments on Proposition 8 — the measure that banned same-sex marriages in California.
In both cases, the justices will hear compelling stories of love, commitment and family. They will be asked to consider the individual facts of each argument alongside broader questions of DOMA and Prop. 8’s constitutionality. They will confront values and issues as old as our republic: matters of justice and civil rights, fairness and the role of government, equality and equal protection under the law.
The court’s conclusion must be firm and clear: DOMA and Prop. 8 are unconstitutional. Neither measure meets the standards of our founding principles. Both deserve to take their rightful place in the dustbin of history.
The proponents of laws against marriage equality have long known that such laws would not pass constitutional muster or withstand judicial review as demonstrated by their efforts to preclude judicial review. In 2004, the Republican-controlled House passed the so-called Marriage Protection Act to try to prevent federal courts from ruling on challenges to DOMA. They even claimed that the landmark case, Marbury v. Madison, was “wrongly decided.”
Their idea, known as “court-stripping,” betrays one of the cornerstones of our system of checks and balances: that our judiciary must be independent, free from manipulation by Congress and the president, so that our Constitution and individual rights are always safeguarded. Indeed, defending individual rights and equal protection are core functions of judicial review.
Those rights are at stake in the DOMA and Prop. 8 cases. It is clear that there is no legitimate federal or state government interest in discrimination. Under any standard or by any degree of judicial review, there is no justification for laws against marriage equality.
Both DOMA and Prop. 8 were enacted with motives ranging from “majoritarian prejudice or indifference.” Attempts have been made by proponents of these laws to justify them on erroneous and deeply offensive stereotypes. Yet prejudice — whether motivated by animus or indifference — does not make it right for LGBT families to be punished, stigmatized, or denied their rights.
By overturning DOMA, we will ensure that spousal benefits are provided to the husbands, wives and partners of LGBT service members and veterans. We will strengthen our economy by delivering tax deductions and employee benefits to same-sex couples, in the private sector and the federal workforce. By overturning Prop. 8, California can join the march of states across the country extending the rights and responsibilities of marriage to LGBT Americans.
For Edie Windsor and millions like her, the journey has been long, hard, and defined too often by stigma, injustice and inequality. For all Americans, the fight for civil rights has been a defining cause for our country. With the Supreme Court’s action, that journey and that fight can once again bear the fruits of progress. We can bend the moral arc of history once more toward justice and secure a future of equality for all American families. Today, I hope justice prevails for Windsor and for all LGBT Americans.
Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House, is the House Democratic Leader and has represented San Francisco in Congress for 25 years.
I wish that she was still the Speaker of the House.
h/t: USA Today
In oral arguments Tuesday morning on California’s Proposition 8, the Supreme Court appeared narrowly divided on the question of whether the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection affords same sex couples the right to marry — but a majority of the justices appeared skeptical that the case has standing and flirted with throwing it out.
Chief Justice John Roberts set the tone by asking each of the lawyers to begin by explaining why the case has standing. The other justices backed him up with a series of questions, even as all three lawyers arguing the case insisted that it was properly brought before the court.
Seven of the justices voiced skepticism, to varying degrees, about whether the case was properly before the court. At issue is whether the case was properly defended. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) declined to defend Prop 8 in court, and the defense was undertaken by one of the original proponents of Prop 8.
“I suppose there might be people out there with a personal interest” in whether gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, said Roberts.
“On a question of such fundamental importance why should it not be left to the people?” asked Alito, who also questioned whether the judiciary ought to be able to decide whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage, “which is newer than cellphones or the internet.”
Justice Stephen Breyer said the group defending Prop 8 was “no more than a group of five people who feel really strongly that they should vindicate the public interest.”
Justice Antonin Scalia was the only one not
The justices also held a spirited debate on the merits and appeared sharply divided as to whether or not states have the right to outlaw same-sex couples from marrying.
The political and legal history of gay marriage in California is torturous. Proposition 8 was passed by California voters in November 2008 in response to a ruling by the state Supreme Court earlier that same year that found a right to gay marriage under the California constitution. Same-sex marriage had previously been banned by statute and by a referendum passed by the voters in 2000. Following the passage of Prop 8, the California Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that it was valid, but left intact and legal the gay marriages that had been legally performed before Prop 8 passed. Challenges to Prop 8 were filed in federal court and eventually made their way to the Supreme Court, but not before an exceptional amount of legal wrangling and further involvement by the California Supreme Court.
BREAKING: After oral arguments, Supreme Court does not appear prepared to issue broad ruling on gay marriage
Partial win for the pro-equality side.