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DOMA and Prop 8, in a nutshell. There was no other decision

DOMA and Prop 8, in a nutshell.  There was no other decision

OK, surgery is over. (It was absolutely minor, so there’s nothing wrong with me)

Unlike most other gay people with a blog, I felt no need to sit by the computer constantly scouring the internet for the latest or watching the SCOTUS live blog.  I knew that they would come to these decisions.  Anyone who’s even remotely watched the court for any length of time would come to the same conclusion.

The court split right along the expected line, to me, and the decision on DOMA was beautifully written.  I’m still reading it, and there’s a TON of reading material there TO read so I won’t try and encapsulate it.

Prop 8 was also another expected victory, though it did totally surprise me that Sotomayer joined the dissent.

There are no doubt going to be a million and one articles written on this in the next week, and I have no plans making my site the 1,000,002nd one.  Every gay blog out there fancies themselves a legal scholar and I’m hear to tell you that I’m absolutely not one.  I need to read the decisions, and ask my questions before I share my opinions.  For now, I defer direct to the Supreme Court blog:


The federal Defense of Marriage Act defines “marriage,” for purposes of over a thousand federal laws and programs, as a union between a man and a woman only. Today the Court ruled, by a vote of five to four, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, that the law is unconstitutional. The Court explained that the states have long had the responsibility of regulating and defining marriage, and some states have opted to allow same-sex couples to marry to give them the protection and dignity associated with marriage. By denying recognition to same-sex couples who are legally married, federal law discriminates against them to express disapproval of state-sanctioned same-sex marriage. This decision means that same-sex couples who are legally married must now be treated the same under federal law as married opposite-sex couples.

And for Prop 8:

There is a threshold question of “standing” that piqued the interest of several Justices – the Chief Justice and the Court’s four more liberal Justices in particular – who seemed inclined at oral argument to hold that the sponsors of Proposition 8 lacked the legal right to defend it in court.  Justice Kennedy, who had recently suggested that the Court was deciding too many hot-button issues that should be decided by the legislature instead, seemed skeptical about a potential problem with the sponsors’ “standing” but offered another path to avoid deciding whether Proposition 8 violates the Constitution:  the Court could simply dismiss the case on the ground that it had made a mistake in taking it on.

The one thing that didn’t seem likely after the oral argument was what some supporters of same-sex marriage had long feared:  a decision holding that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage isconstitutional.  As I explained in an earlier post, some gay rights groups had been irked by Boies and Olson’s decision to bring the Proposition 8 case at all; that split reflected a concern that the country wasn’t ready yet for same-sex marriage, and that a ruling upholding Proposition 8 would be a huge setback for the cause.  Of course, public support for same-sex marriage has swelled significantly in the four years since Olson and Boies filed their lawsuit, and the expectations of same-sex marriage supporters have increased along with that support.  And so it will be more than a little ironic if the same people who once feared a ruling on the merits will now be disappointed that they won’t get one.

A few words about timing.  As we have explained in a response to our readers’ frequently asked questions, the Court does not announce what opinions it will release on any particular day.  All we know is that the Court is expected to issue opinions on Monday and one or more later days.  We’ll have a lot more certainty (about logistics, if not the future of DOMA and Proposition 8) soon.  Stay tuned . . . it’s going to be a historic week.

I’ll have more on this when I’ve had a chance to actually read the materials.

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