Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What To Look For Today in the U.S. Supreme Court Decisions on Marriage Equality

City Hall in San Francisco Tonight in Rainbow Colors. 

The U.S. Supreme Court will issue it's decisions on marriage equality this morning around 10 a.m. East Coast Time.

I am saying "decisions" since there are actually two rulings that need to be made on the subject.

The first ruling that will be made is on Proposition 8 which is specifically about allowing same-sex couples to marry in California. Proposition 8 is a referendum back in 2008 that narrowly passed in California overturning a California Supreme Court decision that said same-sex couples were entitled to marriage equality.

The second decision is on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) which hurts same-sex couples in many ways in the United States by ordering the Federal Government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages.
There are a wide range of possible outcomes.

1. Total victory for marriage equality.  The court states in no uncertain terms that marriage equality is the law of the land in the 50 United States. This is a highly unlikely decision, but possible.

2. A clear victory for marriage equality The court overturns both Proposition 8 and DOMA, but does not say that marriage equality is the law of the land in the 50 United States. This will be a clear victory, and will mean that same-sex couples have the right to marry in California, and that discrimination is not allowed against same-sex couples on the federal level.  However, individual states will continue be able to not allow same-sex marriages if they wish, just like they can or cannot do today.

Note the following:

  • The court could refuse to rule on one or both issues for several reasons. This will also be a victory, as a refusal to rule will be the same as overturning both laws. 
  • The court can overturn one of the two. This would also be a good victory for marriage equality-- but overturning DOMA is the more important of the two right now. California can be expected to overturn Proposition 8 in 2014 if the court upholds it, since attitudes have changed so much since 2008.  

3. Defeat for marriage equality. The court upholds both Proposition 8 and DOMA, and will set the movement back somewhat. This simply means we have to wait for one of the Republican justices to kick the bucket (hopefully Scalia who is 77 and very anti rights of minorities), and for public attitudes to continue to change.

4 The court can state that they need more time to consider this, and hold decisions over to next year. This is unlikely.

There are 5 Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court, and 4 Democrats, a majority of 5 is needed for a ruling.

One might assume that, based on this,  the court will reject marriage equality, but Republican Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts have issued pro-LGBT rulings and opinions in the past, and may vote with the 4 Democrat justices who will be on the side of marriage equality.

One thing that is interesting to note is that Justice Scalia, who has a big mouth and is very right wing gets on Chief Justice Roberts' nerves. It is theorized that Robers switched votes to allow Obamacare (national health insurance)  this year at the last minute specifically because Scalia talked down to him in public and treated him like a lightweight. Let's hope Scalia continue to run his big mouth and antagonize those he does agree with.

Whoops!  Wrong Supremes!  

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