SCOTUS to hear challenge to DOMA

This should be an interesting set of arguments to watch as SCOTUS will review both the California ban on gay marriage and potentially challenge DOMA.  I’ve never quite Image: File photo of Gay Marriage advocates cheering during a rally moments before hearing the news of the Proposition 8 over-ruling outside the Ninth Circuit Courthouse in San Franciscofigured out why the state has such a compelling interest in the domestic arrangements of individuals.  I can’t see the world coming to an end if we extend the franchise or end it completely for that matter.  It has traditionally been a transfer of property rights and legal rights and that’s just about the extent of it as far as I’m concerned.  It used to be that women were part of the property transfer and thankfully, we’ve dropped the legal aspects of that. Any one that wants to share property rights and decision making with another person has only my best wishes for best of luck.  I still refer to my 20 year marriage as the pilfering of my assets and personhood, but hey, I’m not bitter, am I? (Interesting that this happens on what would be my 37th wedding anniversary.)

The U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue of gay marriage for the first time, agreeing to rule on a California ballot measure banning the practice and a federal law defining marriage as solely an opposite-sex union.

The cases, which the court will decide by June, loom as a potential turning point on one of the country’s most divisive issues. High court review comes as the gay-marriage movement is showing unprecedented momentum, winning victories at the polls in four states this year.

The California dispute will address whether gay marriage is legal in the most populous U.S. state, home to more than 37 million people. The case also gives the justices a chance to go much further and tackle the biggest issue: whether the Constitution guarantees same-sex marriage rights nationwide.

That question is “perhaps the most important remaining civil rights issue of our time,” said Theodore Olson, a Washington lawyer leading the legal fight against the California measure.

The real issue here is equal treatment under the law.  Is that how the Supremes will view it?

As usual, the justices did not offer any explanation of why they decided to take the cases. Oral arguments are expected in the spring, with a ruling to follow in the summer. The court traditionally holds its most important decisions until the last day of its term, sometime in June or July.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is seen as likely to side with the court’s liberal bloc on DOMA, but his views on Proposition 8 are harder to predict.

Striking down only DOMA, and leaving Proposition 8 intact, would not recognize a right to same-sex marriage, but would leave the issue to the states.

Several states have already begun to recognize same-sex marriage and the success of marriage-equality ballot measures on Election Day was seen as a watershed moment, as opponents of same-sex marriage had long argued that popular opinion was on their side.

In addition to the California case, the justices today said they will review the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that two federal appeals courts said impermissibly treats legally married gay couples differently than heterosexual couples. DOMA, as the measure is known, blocks gays from claiming the same federal tax breaks and other marriage benefits that opposite-sex spouses enjoy.

I certainly hope we can get pass the idea that what passed for marriage since the Victorian age is the be-all and end-all of frameworks.  What we need to be interested in is a social and legal construct that best supports individuals and not some outdated notion from a Godey’s Lady book.


10 Comments on “SCOTUS to hear challenge to DOMA”

  1. dakinikat says:

    GuardianUS ‏@GuardianUS

    “I think #Doma is now likely to be struck down by the supreme court” – live updates: http://trib.al/h59P1UK #Prop8 #Scotus

  2. dakinikat says:

    AdamSerwer ‏@AdamSerwer

    Supreme Court could side with equality in one case and render discrimination constitutional in the other: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/12/supreme-court-prop-8-doma-danger-overturn

  3. NW Luna says:

    I find it funny that some of the very types of people who used to rail against marriage as being “tied down” now want to get married.

    Washington state is a community property state, so each spouse is legally entitled to 1/2 of all property which comes to either spouse during the marriage. There are exceptions for such items as an inheritance which is separate property of the inheriting spouse. Say a wife works to support her husband going through school, then husband works for a few years and becomes a fat-cat exec, then divorces wife for trophy secretary 2nd wife. In this state the 1st wife would be entitled to 1/2 of the husband’s salary and (usually) benefits such as retirement funds during marriage. However that can work in reverse — one spouse is responsible for the other’s debts as well. Not being married keeps your own property legally entirely your own, so if you are the one with more assets, you probably have more financial protection not married.

    Such a strange system. I married the 2nd time to allow my husband to get covered by my healthcare benefits. He worked for small companies which didn’t offer benefits, and for the last decade has his own practice. Individual healthcare insurance is so expensive. I will be curious to see how rates settle out in 2014 with Obamacare. Stupid to have healthcare insurance tied to employment.

  4. ANonOMouse says:

    “The real issue here is equal treatment under the law.”

    In the end that’s what every civil rights issue is about. HRC estimates there are 1400 rights conferred through marriage. Some of those rights we can work around if we can afford an attorney to draw up legal agreements, but most of those rights are out of reach without marriage equality.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Scalia has said that gay marriage isn’t a constitutional issue (or something like that). I just hope the SCOTUS doesn’t mess things up for states like MA where there are lots of same sex marriages that are years old.

  6. RalphB says:

    Paul Krugman thinks that deal would be crap. I think Beltway Bob is ahead of himself.

    I Hope This Isn’t True

    Ezra Klein says that the shape of a fiscal cliff deal is clear: only a 37 percent rate on top incomes, and a rise in the Medicare eligibility age.

    I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that this is just a case of creeping Broderism, that it’s a VSP fantasy about how we’re going to resolve this in a bipartisan way. Because if Obama really does make this deal, there will be hell to pay.

    First, raising the Medicare age is terrible policy. It would be terrible policy even if the Affordable Care Act were going to be there in full force for 65 and 66 year olds, because it would cost the public $2 for every dollar in federal funds saved. And in case you haven’t noticed, Republican governors are still fighting the ACA tooth and nail; if they block the Medicaid expansion, as some will, lower-income seniors will just be pitched into the abyss.

    Second, why on earth would Obama be selling Medicare away to raise top tax rates when he gets a big rate rise on January 1 just by doing nothing? And no, vague promises about closing loopholes won’t do it: a rate rise is the real deal, no questions, and should not be traded away for who knows what.

    So this looks crazy to me; it looks like a deal that makes no sense either substantively or in terms of the actual bargaining strength of the parties. And if it does happen, the disillusionment on the Democratic side would be huge. All that effort to reelect Obama, and the first thing he does is give away two years of Medicare? How’s that going to play in future attempts to get out the vote?

    If anyone in the White House is seriously thinking along these lines, please stop it right now.