Gay-marriage opponents take heart
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.