High court and gay marriage: A 'major event in American history'
December 7th, 2012
07:04 PM ET

High court and gay marriage: A 'major event in American history'

[Updated at 7:04 p.m. ET] The U.S. Supreme Court's announcement Friday that it will soon tackle the contentious issue of same-sex marriage is "a major event in American history, not just in Supreme Court history," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said.

"The Supreme Court is not just going to decide whether the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional, they are also going to decide whether Proposition 8 in California whether the ban on same-sex marriage there is unconstitutional, and that could affect all 50 states," Toobin said.

The court says it will hear two appeals: one involving the federal Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples legally married in their own state; and one involving a challenge to California's Proposition 8, a voter-approved referendum that took away the right of same sex-marriage that previously had been approved by the state's courts. Read more about these cases.

Oral arguments in the high court appeal will likely be held in March, with a ruling by late June.

Here's some of what's being said about Friday afternoon's announcement:

Edith Windsor, who had a 42-year partnership with Thea Clara Spyer and is behind the DOMA case, told the Guardian's Adam Gabbat that she is "delirious with joy."

"I think it's wonderful," Windsor, 83, of New York, told the UK publication. "I think it's the beginning of justice like I imagined in fourth-grade civics. I'm thrilled at how it's gone."

In October, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found, in Windsor's favor, that DOMA violates the Constitution's equal protection clause and thus she shouldn't have had to pay an inheritance tax after her partner's death.

Some opponents of same-sex marriage also welcomed the high court's intervention. The National Organization for Marriage, a group that helped lead the effort to pass Proposition 8 in California, said it was confident of prevailing.

In February, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled the measure unconstitutional.

"We believe (the Supreme Court's decision to take the case) is a strong signal that the court will reverse the lower courts and uphold Proposition 8," said John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. "That is the right outcome based on the law and based on the principle that voters hold the ultimate power over basic policy judgments and their decisions are entitled to respect."

Salvatore Cordileone, archbishop of San Francisco and the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' marriage defense subcommittee, said the high court's decision to consider the cases "is a significant moment for our nation."

"I pray the Court will affirm the fact that the institution of marriage, which is as old as humanity and written in our very nature, is the union of one man and one woman," Cordileone said in a statement from the conference. "Marriage is the foundation of a just society, as it protects the most vulnerable among us, children.

"It is the only institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers together. We pray for the court, that its deliberations may be guided by truth and justice so as to uphold marriage's true meaning and purpose."

More reaction from politicians, organizations and others:

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson:

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.:

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

Justin Mikita, co-founder of TieTheKnot.org, which advocates "for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans":

Jessie Tyler Ferguson, another TieTheKnot.org co-founder and Mikita's finance:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

Gay-marriage case: Financial benefits at stake

Same-sex couple sues federal government in DOMA case

Catholic Notre Dame announces services for gay students

Victory for lesbian, years after her longtime partner's death


Filed under: Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
soundoff (534 Responses)
  1. tlmccl

    there is no REASONALBE argument as to why two loving individuals should not be able to marry, GAY or straight....

    December 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valkur

      Should you be allowed to marry your cousin or sister if you love each other? How about having multiple wives (open up polygamy) again? Just because it feel right, doesn't make it right. Example: Suicide – just because you hate the world and want to leave it, doesn't make it right and legal.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • JWT

      For some people suicide is a right decision.

      On the topic of gay marriage – there is no reason why it should not happen. There is zero harm in it.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Valkur

      JWT – how about it's offensive and considered Taboo to some people? This is especially true in some cultures (India, China, Middle East)? While there is about a 50/50 split for gay marriage support here in the US, that's at least half the population that's going to say – now why did we legalize that?

      December 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • C.S.

      Marriage in this sense is recognition by the state that you get equal benefits, treatment, tax breaks, etc. Allowing polygamy would be an abuse of this privilege, and would thus serve to undermine the governmental recognition of marriage. If you study any legal case about polygamy, then abuse of license is always the reason polygamy is deemed to be illegal. Remember, gays want to be recognized by the state as being married so that they may take advantage of the same benefits married couples can. A polygamist abuses these rights when he marries 5, 6 or 7 people (in a sense, it's a scam of the system). As far as marrying your sister or cousin, incest raises serious medical concerns with respect to childbirth, so much so that it is reasonable that the state has laws to protect against it.

      I think you are trying to find loopholes in the logic that don't exist.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • rosie

      Valkur – it is still a state by state decision.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Sir Dude

      Valkur: interracial marriage is considered offensive and wrong in some groups too.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*um_hello

      Suicide is not illegal. It may be against YOUR moral code, but people who attempt suicide are not charged with attempted murder or any other crime.

      Also, just because adults of the same gender are allowed to marry doesn't nullify other legislation that may or may not be in place such as polygamy or incest.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • JWT

      The people who are that against gay marriage can talk it over with a professional to help with their phobias. Gay marriage can only benefit the country – it can do no harm to anyone. Denying it is purely discriminiation.

      Also there are a lot of people apparently who find mixed race marriage icky and disgusting too but we fortunately ignore their ignorance. The country needs to accept gay marriage in order to become a better place.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • JWT

      @CS Recent studies have shown that there are no serious risks with having children with a 1st cousin – which is legal in many places already.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • not tonight

      if two guys get married who will get the head ache

      December 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Johnjon

    It's about time. Mine and my partner's patience is running thin. After 23 years we want to make it legal and marry.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark

      It's "My and my partner's patience"; not "Mine and my partner's patience". You wouldn't say "Mine patience". That is the test of the correct use of derivatives.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Had we known your patience was running thin, we'd have gotten on this looooooooooong ago. So sorry.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnjon

      Thank you Mark. I always wondered if that was the proper use of the word. You must be a riot at parties.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Penny Wright

    We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.....

    December 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jrod

    About time

    December 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Paul

    Of course gay marriage is going to be upheld. It's stupid to even debate this, or waste tax dollars over it.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. ER

    We still have federal laws banning gays from getting married? Hahahaha. Simpletons.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mikey

      Please cite the laws you state. There are no federal banning gay marriage. There is DOMA, but that does not ban gay marriage. The simpleton is you. Marriage is a Starr's right, and that's why some states allow it and others do not. Or, the different requirements for marriage...However, that being said, the 14 Amendment does not allow for like groups to be discriminated against (among other things). So please cite the Federal Code that states the Federal law that bans gay marriage.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • rosie

      AND the Federal government cannot pass a law the says all states have to allow gay marriage. That would end up in court anyway.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. stevensrmiller

    What awful reporting. What decisions are being appealed? Who won at the trial court? Who are the parties to each suit? Which states are they from?

    December 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cogito

      A little reading comprehension goes a long way...as does staying informed about current events.

      December 8, 2012 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  8. Primewonk

    Both cases have been crafted to fall into Kennedy's lap. He would have to overturn his previous decisions in order to rule against equal rights for gay folks.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • rosie

      Soooo, you are saying it time to say that gay people are equal to the rest of us? About time!

      December 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Antigonus

    "there is no REASONALBE argument as to why two loving individuals should not be able to marry, GAY or straight...."

    Just playing Devil's Advocate here, but what about siblings, or a parent and child?

    December 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • phearis

      What about children? A single mother is perfectly fine raising a child but two mothers and the child will grow up to be a rampaging serial killer?? No they won't. Two moms, two dads, a mom and dad, There's no difference. None.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • O

      You missed the sarcasm.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pseudonym

      In case you didn't know, there's actual scientific evidence as to why close relatives shouldn't marry and procreate: Their children more often than not have severe genetic defects.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. phearis

    It shouldn't be an issue or be put to a vote. It should just happen. It's called Equal Rights and Discrimination; and the Christians are hiding behind a book to justify their position of Bigotry. Go on Christians, deny it, I dare ya!

    December 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • rosie

      Christians are no better than the Muslims that they hate.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • lestersingleton

      Bigotry – "a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance". Sounds to me that you are just a big of a bigot as those to whom you are pointing the finger. Outwardly expressing your blanketed statement toward all Christians proves your prejudice and intolerance toward the beliefs of others. So before you start the name calling, you might need to examine how doing so reflects upon yourself.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • phearis

      @ lestersingleton – HAHAHA!! That is hilarious coming from you!! Just so you know, I hate all religion equally; not just Christians. Want to know why? Because they force their beliefs on others and if you don't believe what they do, they'll kill you. Did you know that over the centuries, almost a Billion people have died in the name of Religion. Seems like a pretty good reason to hate it to me.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robert

    Why even submit it to the Supreme Court? As with everything else in this modern age, it will rule against traditional mores and values that have been in place for 1000s of years.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Primewonk

      Like when SCOTUS ruled that we had to let those uppity colored folks marry us white folks?

      December 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • ForsakenPoptart

      Yeah, I know- I hate how slavery was abolished, and how I can't kill my wife if she talks back to me. Sucks, right?

      December 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elliot

      Slavery (considered moral and just at one point) was tradition for 1000's of years; Keeping more than one wife was considered moral and just and tradition for 1000's of years...Keeping women less than equal to men and as servants was moral and just and tradition for 1000's of years...

      December 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • yelyah

      Thank god! If we stuck to "traditional mores and values" of the last 1000s years, we would still have slaves and women would be worth nothing more than baby makers!

      December 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • rosie

      You can live an honest moral life without ever having read or followed and darn thing from the bible.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • lisaleev

      Such as desegregation? Would you not agree that that was needed in this country?

      December 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sivick

      Yeah, why not just leave everything up to tradition, like the earth is flat and volcanoes are caused by an angry god and diseases are caused by witches! Because people 1000's of years ago definitely knew better than we do.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • 236'er

      I don't think the United States of America has been around for more than 236 years...where is the 1000's of years coming from

      December 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. childlikegrownup

    It is about STATE rights. It should be up to each state as to how it will define marriage.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • jasonc

      Exactly,...just like slavery, i mean come on states rights!

      December 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • rosie

      jasonc obviously does not live in one of the states in this country. YES THERE ARE STATES RIGHTS! mor0n.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • DUBBYA

      Are you stupid? If "states' rights" ruled our country, we'd still have many southern states owning people of color as property. We'd also have several southern states banning interracial marriage. Perhaps that is what you're hoping for, huh?

      December 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Primewonk

      When President Obama was born, it was still illegal for his parents to be married in 22 states. If his parents had been driving cross-country and been pulled over by the police, his parents could have been arrested and imprisoned.

      In the past 26 years my wife and I have lived in 4 different states. We did not have to get remarried each time we moved. Nor did we have to register our kids as being ours each time.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • issac

      You're probably one of those fools who argue the Civil War was about states' rights.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pseudonym

      The problem with this is that there's something called the Full Faith Clause, meaning that one's marriage will be honored in all 50 states. However, because of DOMA, this is not the case for gay couples, despite the Full Faith Clause. This is why it's a nation-wide issue and not just one about state rights. This is the same thing that happened with inter-racial couples.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erica

      Rosie,
      I think you missed the sarcasm in what he was saying. And to then call him a moron...

      December 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. FirstInHate

    I can hear the Mormon fundraising (hate) machine cranking up from Utah!

    December 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Robert

    There should never be gay marriage in this country.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • rosie

      Why?

      December 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • ER

      Bahahahaha. Ignorant.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • JWT

      Why not ? Other than some people's interpretation of their bible there is nothing wrong with it.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • ForsakenPoptart

      Yeah! Let's continue to treat a percentage of our population as second-class citizens because Robert thinks it's icky!

      December 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul X

      Why shouldn't there be? What...because of religious reasons? Irrelevant. Other than someone's religious beliefs, which should not be imposed upon basic human rights, what possible reason would you have to say that?

      December 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reasonable

      Sounds great, then we can be proud to have civil rights on par with most of the middle east.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • RIP GOP

      Ban bigotry.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      there will be, Robert. you are free to leave

      December 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. RIP GOP

    Hey all you BIGOTS south of Dixie.....GAY Marriage be coming your way very soon. LOL

    December 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • rosie

      Cool, thanks Nimrod.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
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