The Supreme Court is poised to rule on
two cases related to gay marriage, possibly as early as Monday.
The nation's highest court
traditionally hands down rulings before its summer break on cases
heard in earlier months. Unless the justices decide to revisit the
matter in the fall, the decisions will be released sometime
next week, the session's final week.
One case challenges the
constitutionality of Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban,
while the other claims the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which
prohibits federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of
gay and lesbian couples, is unconstitutional.
While supporters are preparing
events throughout the nation to mark the occasion, opponents are
busy planning their next steps.
“There's a sense of anticipation,”
Peter Sprigg of the Christian conservative Family Research Council
(FRC) told NBC News. “It's likely the decisions will determine the
landscape for where we go from here, so I certainly don't believe
that the debate is going to be over, but the terms of the debate and
sort of the lay of the field, will probably be very different at the
Brian Brown, the president of the
National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most
vociferous opponent of marriage equality, and NOM Chairman John
Eastman have each renewed calls for a constitutional amendment
defining marriage as a heterosexual union.
said that “every possible scenario and outcome and gambit are
being considered because this fight is critically important. If the
Supreme Court … manufacturers a right to same-sex marriage out the
Constitution, then the remedy would be a constitutional amendment.”
He added that he did not believe that
the Supreme Court is “foolish enough to go there,” because “they
recognize what harm they've caused to our body politic when they did
something similar to that in 1973 and that issue still infects our
politics,” he said, referring to Roe v. Wade.
“You can't run for dogcatcher in this
country without that issue being part of the campaign,” he said.
Doug NeJaime, law professor at Loyola
Law School, said that the possible outcomes vary widely.
“In Perry, the Court has
multiple routes open to it: It could rule California's Proposition 8
unconstitutional based on the broad reasoning urged by the
plaintiffs' lawyers, the narrow logic employed by the Ninth Circuit,
or the middle path put forward by the Justice Department. It could
also find that the plaintiffs lack standing to appeal, which would
restore the district court's ruling invalidating Proposition 8. Of
course, the Court could also rule Proposition 8 constitutional. The
path the Court chooses will have significant implications not only
for California but for other states across the country,” NeJaime
said. In Windsor, the Court is set to determine the
constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA. However, significant
jurisdictional and standing questions have arisen in that litigation
“Looming over both cases is
uncertainty regarding the level of scrutiny sexual orientation-based
classifications should receive for federal equal protection purposes.
Whatever the results, the issue of marriage for same-sex couples
will look dramatically different after the Court rules.”
In comments to NBC News, Sprigg
lamented that the motivations of opponents such as himself had been
“One of the points of frustration for
me has been that the supporters of same-sex marriage want to portray
the opponents of it as motivated entirely by hostility towards gay
and lesbian people as individuals and that's completely untrue,” he
said. “We are concerned about preserving the institution of
marriage and making sure it continues to perform the important social
functions that it has always performed.”
However, the organization Sprigg
represents, the FRC, in 2010 was labeled a “hate group” by the
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which specifically cited Sprigg's
anti-gay rhetoric in defending its decision.
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