Supreme Court Set for 2013 Date with Marriage
By June 2013 the Supreme Court's nine justices will determine the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as well as California's Proposition 8 in two decisions that could be just as sweeping in scope as halting to a movement ''with the wind at its back.''
Many suspect a favorable ruling in United States v. Windsor, which targets Section 3 of DOMA for denying same-sex couples rights and benefits enjoyed by straight couples.
However, the Supreme Court's decision to hear the Proposition 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, could have groundbreaking ramifications in the fight for marriage equality.
Although the Supreme Court could rule narrowly, it could also rule sweepingly in a decision reminiscent to the 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia, which declared that laws restricting interracial marriage violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Should the high court take the sweeping route and make a ruling similar to that by the district court in 2010, constitutional statutes in states across the country prohibiting same-sex marriage could be rendered void. Such a decision would be not only be revolutionary, but the national declaration of support advocates have long sought.
Just as easily, though, the court could rule that states have a right to limit marriage between a man and a woman, even if states cannot repeal marriage equality once granted. A ruling that the Constitution does not guarantee same-sex couples the right to marry would be a major setback for a movement that has enjoyed momentous victories recently.
When oral arguments on DOMA and Proposition 8 begin in March, it will likely be one of the most high-profile Supreme Court cases in recent history. With about 150 first-come, first-serve public seats in the courtroom, the editors of SCOTUSblog predict some of the court's longest lines ever, forming as many as three days in advance.
The hopes of millions of same-sex couples will be in the hands of the court's justices. Although some remain nervous, others are confident equality will prevail.
''We are now literally within months of getting a final resolution of this case that began three-and-a-half years ago,'' said David Boies, one of the lead attorneys on the case, adding that he and co-counsel Ted Olson are hopeful the justices will address the fundamental issue of whether it is unconstitutional to discriminate against same-sex couples' right to marry.
''And if they decide that - as we're confident they will if they reach that issue - our way, that would mean there would be a fundamental right to marry in every state in the country, because obviously the federal Constitution applies to every state in the country.''