This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on two cases involving so-called “same-sex” marriage. The first case is Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case from California challenging Proposition 8, which California voters passed in 2008. Proposition 8 was a constitutional amendment that defined marriage for purposes of California law as the union of a man and a woman. Immediately upon its passage, it was challenged as being unconstitutional, a denial of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Federal trial and appellate courts in California struck down Prop 8, but some are suggesting, based upon tenor of the oral arguments, that the U.S. Supreme Court may not rule on the matter at all, stating that they have no jurisdiction.
What the court will ultimately do is anyone’s guess.
The second case to be argued is United States v. Windsor, a case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a statute passed in 1996 that defines marriage for purposes of federal law as the union of one man and one woman. With nine states and the District of Columbia now recognizing “same-sex” marriage, the fate of this statute is far from certain.