[Updated] US Supreme Court rules on Gay Marriage Case

LazyLion

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The rights of married same-sex couples will come under scrutiny at the US Supreme Court on Wednesday in the second of two landmark cases being considered by the top judicial panel.

After the nine justices mulled arguments on a California law that outlawed gay marriage on Tuesday, they will take up a challenge to the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The 1996 law prevents couples who have tied the knot in nine states --where same-sex marriage is legal -- from enjoying the same federal rights as heterosexual couples.

The plaintiff is Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old lesbian who was ordered to pay federal inheritance tax of $363,000 following the death of her partner of more than 40 years in 2009.

A heterosexual widow would not have faced the same demand. Windsor is challenging Section 3 of DOMA on the grounds it is discriminatory because it defines marriage as an act between a man and woman.

President Barack Obama's administration had opposed Windsor's bid to repeal Section 3 as it progressed through the lower courts, where the legislation was twice ruled as unconstitutional.

But the White House has since switched sides and is now calling for the law to be overturned, leaving DOMA to be defended by a group of Republican lawmakers, along with a coalition of religious and conservative groups.

"The case is pretty simple. It's about discrimination," said James Esseks, one of Windsor's lawyers.

"It doesn't make sense in America for a federal government to treat two different people married under the same state law, different ways. That is unfair, it is un-American and it should be unconstitutional."

Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center, added: "With respect to DOMA, it's an irrational federal discrimination against legally married same-sex couples.

"I think it is a pretty simple and clear case."

Opponents of Windsor's case, however, are contesting the portrayal of homosexuals as the victims of discrimination, describing them in a brief as "one of the most influential, best-connected, and best-organized groups in modern politics."

Some legal experts say the Supreme Court justices may decide that DOMA represents an interference of individual states' right to set marriage law.

"It may sound to some justices like DOMA infringes on federalism or states' rights," said David Cruz, a professor at the University of Southern California.

The court trod cautiously Tuesday as it considered the constitutionality of California's "Proposition 8," the ballot initiative through which in 2008 voters ended right to same-sex marriage in the nation's most populous state.

While it will take months to issue a ruling, several justices indicated they would be in no hurry to make a verdict that could extend the right to same-sex marriage to the entire country.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose remarks are closely watched as he is often the swing vote on the bench, voiced reluctance for the court to step into "uncharted waters" on a case involving Californian law.

Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative, spoke of a "lack of data" on same-sex marriage since it was first legalized in the Netherlands in 2001.

On a day long-awaited by both sides of the debate, thousands of gay rights advocates waving US and rainbow flags descended on the court, outnumbering a rally of religious activists opposed to same-sex marriage.

One demonstrator dressed in pink danced to music of Lady Gaga, the superstar singer and supporter of gay rights.

Among opponents, protesters pushed strollers and chanted: "Every child deserves a mom and dad."

"All people are capable of loving children, but all the love in the world can't turn a mother into a father or a father into a mother," said Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.

Opinion polls have repeatedly indicated that most Americans now accept the principle of same-sex marriage, including an overwhelming majority of younger citizens.

Obama last May became the first US president to publicly back gay marriage.


Source : Sapa-AFP /pk
Date : 27 Mar 2013 08:36
 
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2021

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"All people are capable of loving children, but all the love in the world can't turn a mother into a father or a father into a mother," said Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.

Wow, way to alienate the single parents out there in one sweeping comment. Conservatives need to be more conservative with their words.
 
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LazyLion

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Supreme Court Treads Fine Line on Gay Marriage Ruling

The US Supreme Court is set to issue two rulings by the end of June that could reshape the definition of marriage in the United States as it rules on the constitutionality of a ban on gay marriage in California and a federal law that keeps same-sex couples from receiving benefits.

The issue is one of complex legal issues involving state's rights and freedom from discrimination that could defy the usual balance of liberals and conservatives on the court's roster. It will have a profound effect on the country's millions of same-sex couples and their families who hope to gain the legal, financial and social advantages of being legally wedded.

The court is considering two laws, the federal Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress in 1996, and California's Proposition 8, passed by voters in 2008, both of which specify that the institution of marriage be reserved for a man and a woman.

DOMA also denies federal benefits, such as social security and tax advantages, to same sex couple who are legally married in the states where they reside.

The top US court will no doubt rely heavily on legal theory to arrive at its decision, but it must decide amid the backdrop of fast changing public attitudes that have transformed the consensus over gay marriage even since California passed its ban on same sex unions four and a half years ago.

Back then the issue was controversial even in liberal california, and the ban passed only with the massive injection of funds by outside conservative groups, which used scare tactics about gay culture to win a narrow majority.

Now it's clear that California has a strong majority in favour of gay marriage, with 58 per cent of voters believing it should be legal, compared with 36 per cent opposed, according to a Los Angeles Times poll published this month. Other states are moving in the same direction.

A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center indicated growing acceptance of gay lifestyles. For the first time in Pew polling, just over half of Americans favoured allowing gay men and lesbians to marry legally, while 60 per cent said that homosexuality should be accepted by society rather than discouraged.

The poll indicates how significantly public opinion has changed on the issue in recent years. In 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a 57 per cent to 35 per cent margin. Now the figures are 51 per cent in favour and 42 per cent opposed.

Politicians are moving along with the tide. While US President Barack Obama's views on the issue during his first term might have been oblique, he is now clearly in favour of gay marriage. In the US Senate, 54 out of 100 members, including two Republicans have said they favour gay marriage.

Nine states - Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington, as well as Washington, DC, allow same-sex marriages.

Minnesota, Rhode Island and Delaware have approved same-sex marriage legislation, but laws in those states have yet to go into effect. Six other states are considered likely to pass similar laws, but there still are 30 states that have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.

Legal experts predict that the court is likely to take a clearer stand on DOMA than on Proposition 8 because it defines marriage as between a man and a woman for purposes of federal law, such as taxes and inheritance.

"I think the court will invalidate that section of DOMA, and it may not even be 5-4," Margaret Russell, a law professor at Santa Clara University in California told dpa, referring to the usual split in the court along ideological lines.

If the federal legislation is struck down, gay couples who are legally married in their states would be eligible for the same tax, social security and other benefits as heterosexual couples.

On California's Prop 8, the waters are murkier because the issue not only relates to gay marriage but also to states' rights to legislate on issues according to local preference. Since even the state of California is not defending the law its voters passed, the most likely scenario is that the gay marriage opponents who appealed the lower court ruling against the ban will be denied standing in the case.

Such a ruling would in effect allow gay marriage to proceed in California once the legal technicalities are sorted out. But it would

leave the question open for other states to decide as they see fit - and subject the issue to further legal tussles.

For opponents of gay marriage that would be a victory of sorts, allowing them to institute bans in places where voters oppose the idea.

"The question before this court is whether the Constitution puts a stop to that ongoing democratic debate and answers this question for all 50 states," said Charles Cooper, a lawyer for the Prop 8 supporters in the March court hearings.Author: Andy Goldberg


Source : Sapa-dpa /mom
Date : 13 Jun 2013 04:11
 

ponder

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I don't see why a court case is needed to decide stupid schite like this.
 

LazyLion

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The marathon legal battle over same-sex marriage faces its moment of truth on Wednesday with the United States Supreme Court poised to issue rulings whose impact may be felt for years to come.

Unless the justices fail to agree on two same-sex marriage cases before the court, and decide to revisit the matter when they reconvene later this year, the final opinions will be issued on Wednesday.

With the court shrouded in secrecy, a frenzy is expected when the panel presided over by conservative Justice John Roberts divulges whether the definition of marriage can be extended to include same-sex couples.

In a country where 12 US states plus the capital allow gays and lesbians to marry, the top court is due to take a stance on two appeals and decide whether the principle of equality defended by the constitution has been violated.

In the first case, a gay widow from New York, Edith Windsor, backed by the Obama administration, is challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

That controversial 1996 law denies gay and lesbian couples the same federal rights and benefits that heterosexual married couples take for granted, from tax breaks and welfare benefits to access to a hospitalized spouse.

The second case deals with the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative that saw the nation's most populous state ban same-sex marriage.

At its hearing at the end of March, the top court seemed ready to repeal DOMA but reluctant to legalize gay marriage in California.

The court could rule on California alone, on the states that have similar legislation on civil unions, or on those that still ban gay marriage.

Analysts say the decisions could go either way.

"This term, in particular, it's very risky to bet on what the Supreme Court will do," said lawyer Elizabeth Wydra of the Constitutional Accountability Center.

As with most of the important cases, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who usually votes with the right, "could be the deciding factor," she said.

David Cruz, law professor at the University of Southern California, said it was very unlikely that the court would adopt a broad ruling that strikes down all gay marriage bans.

"I think seeing all same-sex couples being able to get married in every state is probably not going to happen immediately ... because of the tradition in the court: the Justices often move in steps, they rule incrementally," he said.

Thomas Keck, political science professor at Syracuse University, said that whatever the justices decide, "it is going to be high-profile and it is going to get lots of attention."

Fifty-three percent of Americans support gay marriage, according to a recent survey by the Gallup polling institute.

A Pew Research Center survey found that 47 percent of nearly 500 gay marriage news stories studied between March 18 and May 12 -- a period marked by Supreme Court deliberations -- primarily focused on support for the measure.


Source : Sapa-AFP /mjs
Date : 26 Jun 2013 03:38
 

LazyLion

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http://projects.nytimes.com/live-dashboard/2013-06-26-supreme-court-gay-marriage?smid=tw-bna

Supreme Court Strikes Down Defense of Marriage Act

The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 on Wednesday that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstituional.

From SCOTUSblog

Roberts dissents. Scalia dissents. DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment. The opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.

From the decision: “DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty.”

SCOTUSblog quotes from the decision:

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.”
 

OrbitalDawn

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The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a 1996 law denying federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples is unconstitutional, in a sign of how rapidly the national debate over gay rights has shifted.

The decision was 5 to 4, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing the majority opinion, which the four liberal-leaning justices joined. (Read the decision.)

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was in the minority, as were Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

The ruling overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed with bipartisan support and which President Bill Clinton signed.

The decision will immediately extend some federal benefits to same-sex couples, but it will also raise a series of major decisions for the Obama administration about how aggressively to overhaul references to marriage throughout the many volumes that lay out the laws of the United States.

The court is still expected to rule Wednesday on a second case involving same-sex marriage: whether California’s ban on it is unconstitutional.

The decision on the Defense of Marriage Act does not alter any state laws governing whether same-sex couples can marry. It instead determines whether same-sex couples that are legally married in one state receive federal benefits that apply to heterosexual married couples.

“In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us,” Justice Scalia wrote in his dissent. “The truth is more complicated.”

Justice Scalia read from his dissent on the bench, a step justices take in a small share of cases, typically to show that they have especially strong views.

Justice Kennedy, in his opinion, wrote that the law was “unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

http://projects.nytimes.com/live-dashboard/2013-06-26-supreme-court-gay-marriage
 
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icyrus

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Baby steps are the best we can hope for in the US at the moment. At least they're moving in the right direction.
 

Paul Hjul

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ponder

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Hard to belive the US can be this backwards but then again we are dealing with religion here. Based on this ruling would it not be fair to expect the banning of gay marriages to be abolished in the states where they are banned?
 

OrbitalDawn

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1017255_677246458968671_1514756697_n.png


The asspain is hilarious.
 

OrbitalDawn

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Hard to belive the US can be this backwards but then again we are dealing with religion here. Based on this ruling would it not be fair to expect the banning of gay marriages to be abolished in the states where they are banned?

Nah, states still have to pass things through their own legislatures.
 
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