News / USA

US Supreme Court to Consider Same-Sex Marriage

Michael Bowman
The ability of same-sex U.S. couples to legally marry and whether the federal government must recognize those unions could be decided now that the Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear two landmark cases on gay marriage. 

One case concerns the constitutionality of a voter referendum banning homosexual marriage in California; the other concerns the constitutionality of a federal law that excludes same-sex couples from receiving government benefits.

Same-sex couples are getting marriage licenses in Washington state, where voters approved gay marriage in November.

June, 1969: Gays in New York City riot to protest police raids of the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village. Event is considered the birth of the gay rights movement in America.

December, 1973: The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

November, 1978: America’s first openly-gay elected official, San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Harvey Milk, is assassinated.

December, 1993: The Pentagon implements “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, a policy that allows gay military service as long as a member’s homosexuality remains secret.

September, 1996: President Bill Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage and stipulates that no state must honor a same-sex marriage performed in another state.

June, 2003: The U.S. Supreme Court rules anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional.

May, 2004: Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

November, 2008: California voters approve Proposition 8, which strips gay couples of marriage rights in the state.

December, 2010: President Barack Obama signs the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell".

May, 2012: President Obama announces his personal support for same-sex marriage.

November, 2012: Maryland, Maine, and Washington become the first states to affirm same-sex marriage by popular vote. 

December, 2012: The U.S. Supreme Court announces it will hear appeals of lower court rulings striking down both the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.

But their unions are not federally-recognized.  That could change, thanks to Edie Windsor, who contested federal taxes she was charged on property she inherited from her wife after 42 years together.

"I look forward to the day when the federal government will recognize the marriages of all Americans.  And I am hoping that will happen during my lifetime," she said.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case after lower courts declared the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.  Critics of the law include Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

“Same-sex couples live their lives like all marriage couples.  They share financial expenses; they raise children together; they care for each other in good times and in bad," she said.

Congressionally-appointed attorneys will defend the law before the Supreme Court, and are endorsed by Republican Representative Steve King.

“All of human experience points to one committed relationship between a man and a woman as the core building block to society," he said.

The Justice Department stopped defending the law under President Barack Obama, who made headlines earlier this year.

“I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," he said.

The Supreme Court will also consider a California voter referendum that stripped same-sex couples of marriage rights in 2008.  Lower courts ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

The high court could hear oral arguments in both cases as early as March and rule on both cases in June.  Possible outcomes range from the high court affirming no constitutional right to same-sex marriage and upholding the Defense of Marriage Act to striking down the law and legalizing homosexual marriage nationwide.

Pro-gay rights Mayor Jeffrey Prang said, “There are lots of good things that could come out of this decision, and lots of really bad things could come out of this decision.”

Anti-gay rights activists predict Proposition 8 will be upheld. “The Constitution of the United States does not have marriage in it.  And the 10th Amendment [to the Constitution] says what is not in the federal powers belongs to the states," said Randy Thomasson of savecalifornia.com.

Public opinion surveys show that a slight majority of Americans favor same-sex marriage rights.  Changing views will not be lost on the Supreme Court, according to legal analyst Elizabeth Wydra.

“The justices are human beings, so they are not completely immune to public opinion," she said. "I think the real question for them is going to be, 'Do they want to be on the wrong side of history?'”

One of America’s most-contentious social issues will have its day in court, in the highest court in the land.

 

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: caver from: south
December 12, 2012 1:52 PM
As for the right to marry a person of the same sex, that is a state issue not a constitutional issue. The constitution does not give hetero-sexual couples the right to marry so why should it give the homo-sexual couple the right to marry. As for the federal government issue of recognizing same sex marriages that needs to be done through congress not the supreme court.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

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