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 figured 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.
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.