Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Same-sex marriage headed to Supreme Court?

N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis believes North Carolina's constitutional ban on same sex marriage will be overturned within two decades. That might turn out to be a very conservative estimate.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of gay marriage has perhaps become imminent, thanks to a federal appeals court's refusal today to reconsider striking down California's voter-approved ban on same sex marriage.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had ruled in February that California’s ban on gay marriage, known as Proposition 8, was unconstitutional because it stripped gay couples of rights without acceptable justification. Today's affirmation of that decision means the case will likely head to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It's the second heartening ruling for gay marriage supporters in a week. Last week, a federal appeals court in Boston ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act discriminated against married same-sex couples by denying them the same benefits afforded to heterosexual couples. That case also could be headed to the Supreme Court, but its focus is narrower than the Proposition 8 case.

Should the Supreme Court take on the Prop 8 case, it likely would be heard early next year. Experts say the court is split on the issue, with Justice Anthony Kennedy the swing vote.

What would the court be deciding? Neither appeals court ruled on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, choosing instead to focus on how Proposition 8 and DOMA violated the equal protection rights of homosexual couples. Said the the 9th appeals court: “The people may not employ the initiative power to single out a disfavored group for unequal treatment and strip them, without a legitimate justification, of a right as important as the right to marry.”

That language, however, opens the door for the Supreme Court justices to address whether states are constitutionally permitted to ban same sex marriage. The justices could decline to take that wide view, however, on the grounds that California, unlike states such as North Carolina, took away marriage rights previously available to its residents.

We think the justices should take this issue on now. If homosexuals in North Carolina are wrongly being denied the benefits that come with marriage or civil unions, they shouldn't have to wait 20 years for that to change.

Peter St. Onge


WashuOtaku said...

"Experts say the court is split on the issue, with Justice Anthony Kennedy the swing vote."

Don't the experts seem to always say that?

Wiley Coyote said...

State's Rights....

CarolinaDrums said...

It just puzzles me to no end trying to understand why the CO wants to support what 61% of the voters in North Carolina said they don't. Isn't that just plain stupid?

Old Rebel said...

If abstract "equality" is to replace tradition and faith, then let's go ahead and legalize polyandrous, minor, and first-cousin marriages.

After all, who are we to say who can love and who cannot?

Robert Hagedorn said...

Google First Scandal.