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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.