Court watchers are predicting that the
Supreme Court will strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) but
don't expect an all-inclusive ruling.
The court will hand down rulings this
month in two cases related to gay marriage, possibly as soon as
DOMA's prohibition on federal agencies
to recognize the legal marriages of gay couples cost Edith Windsor
more than $360,000 after the death of her wife Thea Spyer.
The women shared their lives for 44
years and married in Toronto, Canada in 2007. In 2009, New York
began recognizing the marriages of gay couples, although gay couples
could not enter such unions in the Empire State until 2011. Spyer
died in 2009.
In Hollingsworth v. Perry, the
court is being asked to decide whether California's Proposition 8, a
constitutional amendment which limits marriage to heterosexual
unions, is unconstitutional.
A broad ruling striking down
Proposition 8 would affect the entire nation. But more likely,
experts say, is a narrow decision that would limit the expansion of
such rights to California.
“It will really move us forward
without going all the way,” Mitchell Katine, a lawyer who worked on
Lawrence v. Texas, the groundbreaking case which struck down
sodomy laws, told USA Today.
Gary Polland, a Houston attorney who
defended Texas' law in Lawrence,
appeared to agree.
“I think it's going to be an
incremental move, whatever it is,” Polland said. “This court
doesn't want to be in the position of making political decisions for
“I think there's a better chance of
the people of California winning it all than there is of the country
being placed under a constitutional regime requiring the creation of
gay marriage,” Teresa Collett, a law professor at the University of
St. Thomas in Minnesota, told the paper.