Supreme Court: Both Sides in Gay Marriage Debate Voice Optimism

Article excerpt

Both sides of the contentious debate over same-sex marriage in America are expressing optimism over the news Friday that the US Supreme Court has agreed to take up two potential landmark gay rights cases.

The high court announced it would hear arguments in a case testing the constitutionality of Californias Prop. 8 ban on same- sex marriage.

It also said it would hear the case of an elderly New York City woman who claims the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates her right to have her same-sex marriage recognized and respected by the federal government on the same terms as marriages of opposite- sex couples.

DOMA restricts receipt of federal spousal benefits to marriages comprised of one man and one woman. Same-sex spouses who are legally married in their home states are nonetheless barred from receiving federal benefits under the 1996 law.

The high court action comes a month after voters in three states Maryland, Washington, and Maine agreed to join six other states and the District of Columbia in embracing same-sex marriages.

With our wins at the ballot box last month and the fight for marriage equality reaching our nations highest court, we have reached a turning point in this noble struggle, said Chad Griffin, president of the gay rights group, Human Rights Campaign.

Todays announcement gives hope that we will see a landmark Supreme Court ruling for marriage this term, he said in a statement.

Kate Kendell, of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, sounded similarly optimistic.

We are confident the Supreme Court will strike down DOMA once and for all next year, and, after four long years, will finally erase the stain of Proposition 8 and restore marriage equality to California couples, she said.

The day is now clearly in sight when the federal government, the state of California, and every state will recognize that same-sex couples and their children are entitled to the same respect and recognition as every other family, Ms. Kendell said.

At the same time, those defending the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman also viewed the courts action as a step forward toward legal vindication of their position.

John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, said the courts decision to take up the Prop. 8 case suggests an intent by the justices to reinstate Californias ban on same-sex marriage.

We believe it is a strong signal that the court will reverse the lower courts and uphold Proposition 8, Mr. Eastman said.

Had the Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts decisions invalidating Proposition 8, it could simply have declined to grant the case, Eastman said. …