News / USA

Supreme Court Hears Landmark Gay Marriage Case

People make their way into the Supreme Court in Washington, March 26, 2013, for the hearing on California’s voter approved ban on same-sex marriage.
People make their way into the Supreme Court in Washington, March 26, 2013, for the hearing on California’s voter approved ban on same-sex marriage.
Michael Bowman
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard the first of two landmark cases on same-sex marriage. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the court Tuesday as justices heard arguments on the constitutionality of a California state law barring gay people from marrying.

Excitement and anticipation could be seen in the faces of John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney, partners of 25 years.

“We would not want to be anywhere else right now," said Gaffney. "This is history in the making.”

The San Francisco couple wed during a brief period when California allowed same-sex marriage. That was before the passage of a 2008 ballot initiative, known as Proposition 8, that restricted marriage to heterosexuals in the state. Prop 8’s constitutionality has been contested for the last four years.  Tuesday, the case was aired before the Supreme Court.

Attorney Ted Olson argued on behalf of California gay couples that want to marry.  He spoke with reporters afterwards.

“The broadest argument we made is that it is just wrong, it is not consistent with the ideals, the laws, and the constitution of this country, to take our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and put them in a class and deny them rights that we give to everyone else," said Olson.

Attorney Charles Cooper argued in favor of retaining Prop 8.

“We believe that Proposition 8 is constitutional, and that the place for the decision to be made regarding redefining marriage is with the people, not with the courts," said Cooper.

A demonstrator holds a bible while marching outside the Supreme Court in Washington, March 26, 2013.
A demonstrator holds a bible while marching outside the Supreme Court in Washington, March 26, 2013.


In considering Prop 8, the Supreme Court could affirm the right of individual states to ban same-sex marriage.  It could also strike down the law only in California or it could strike down all such laws in every state, opening the door to gay marriage nationwide.  The court could also sidestep constitutional issues entirely by finding Prop 8 supporters have no legal standing to defend the law.

Such an outcome would leave intact a lower court ruling that struck down the ballot initiative. Gay Californians would be able to marry.  But bans in other states would be left untouched, and questions about marriage rights for gay people would be unresolved.

John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney want a sweeping ruling that settles the issue once and for all.

“We are Americans," said Lewis. "And we are here on the steps of the United States Supreme Court, because every single American, without exception, should have the freedom to marry the person that they love.”

Opponents of same-sex marriage were also present outside the court.  Tammy Fuentes came to Washington with a Rhode Island church group.

“We believe that marriage is between a man and a woman," said Fuentes. "We do not want to redefine marriage.  God created a man and a woman to reproduce.  We all know men cannot have kids [by themselves], and two women cannot reproduce, either.”

Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of a law that bars the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex unions.  Decisions are expected in June.  

Related video footage from outside the Supreme Court
Supreme Court to Hear Major Gay Marriage Casesi
X
March 26, 2013 12:51 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments this week in two cases that could decide whether same sex marriage will be the law of the land.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
March 27, 2013 3:12 AM
What is the meanings of marrage? I suppose it is a social engagement between the beloved people in order to help them not only love each other but in most cases raise children by offering many social advantages. Most of spousal rights including inheritance rights seem to be offered from these viewpoints. So I am afraid same sex marrage basically should be excluded from deserving these social advantages.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More