Gay-mar­riage op­po­nents take heart

Court

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - A THE COURT’S OP­TIONS NEW york times The As­so­ci­ated Press contributed to this ar­ti­cle.

elec­tion. The suit ar­gued that Cal­i­for­nia’s vot­ers had vi­o­lated the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion the pre­vi­ous year when they ap­proved Propo­si­tion 8, the state con­sti­tu­tional ban on gay mar­riage. The vote came af­ter the state Supreme Court had ruled that gay Cal­i­for­ni­ans could marry.

Fed­eral courts agreed, strik­ing down Propo­si­tion 8. But that rul­ing and thus gay unions re­main on hold while the is­sue is be­ing ap­pealed.

Op­po­nents of gay mar­riage said Fri­day they are heart­ened by the Supreme Court’s ac­tion.

“We be­lieve that it is sig­nif­i­cant that the Supreme Court has taken the Prop 8 case. We be­lieve it is a strong sig­nal that the court will re­verse the lower courts and up­hold Propo­si­tion 8. That is the right out­come based on the law and based on the prin­ci­ple that vot­ers hold the ul­ti­mate power over ba­sic pol­icy judg­ments and their de­ci­sions are en­ti­tled to re­spect,” said John East­man, chair­man of the Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mar­riage and a law pro­fes­sor at Chap­man Univer­sity in Or­ange, Calif.

On the other side, ad­vo­cates for same-sex unions said the court could eas­ily de­cide in fa­vor of gay mar­riage in Cal­i­for­nia with­out is­su­ing a sweep­ing na­tional rul­ing to over­turn ev­ery state pro­hi­bi­tion on mar­riage.

In strik­ing down Propo­si­tion 8, the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals crafted a nar­row rul­ing that said be­cause gay Cali- The Supreme Court has sev­eral op­tions in re­view­ing lower court rul­ings that struck down Cal­i­for­nia’s con­sti­tu­tional ban on same-sex mar­riage:

Re­verse those rul­ings, leav­ing the ban in place un­less vot­ers there choose to re­visit the ques­tion.

Al­low same-sex mar­riage in Cal­i­for­nia but not re­quire it else­where.

Ad­dress the broader ques­tion of whether the Con­sti­tu­tion re­quires states to al­low such mar­riages. for­ni­ans al­ready had been given the right to marry, the state could not later take it away.

“I think the court can eas­ily af­firm the 9th Cir­cuit’s de­ci­sion and leave for a later day whether broader bans on mar­riage are un­con­sti­tu­tional as well,” said James Esseks of the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union.

The sec­ond case the court will hear chal­lenges a part of the De­fense of Mar­riage Act of 1996. Sec­tion 3 of the law de­fines mar­riage as be­tween only a man and a woman.

The case con­cerns Edith Wind­sor and Thea Clara Spyer of New York, mar­ried in 2007 in Canada. Spyer died in 2009, and Wind­sor in­her­ited her prop­erty. The 1996 law did not al­low the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice to treat Wind­sor as a sur­viv­ing spouse, and she faced a $360,000 tax bill a spouse in an op­po­site-sex mar­riage would not have. Wind­sor sued, and in Oc­to­ber the fed­eral ap­peals court in New York struck down the 1996 law.

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