[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:
In '86, Justice Powell, swing vote, told his law clerk he had never met a gay person. Times have changed. #scotus #ssm— Jeffrey Toobin (@JeffreyToobin) December 07, 2012
In '86, Justice Powell, swing vote, told his law clerk he had never met a gay person. Times have changed. #scotus #ssm
Big news as #SCOTUS takes up Prop. 8 case & DOMA. Show where you stand. Be part of @HRC's #MajorityOpinion: bit.ly/QQfa9Y #LGBT— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) December 07, 2012
Big news as #SCOTUS takes up Prop. 8 case & DOMA. Show where you stand. Be part of @HRC's #MajorityOpinion: bit.ly/QQfa9Y #LGBT
We're going to the #SupremeCourt! #SCOTUS takes review of #DOMA and Prop 8! Read up on Edie's case against DOMA: bit.ly/Q99jeQ #LGBT— ACLU National (@ACLU) December 07, 2012
We're going to the #SupremeCourt! #SCOTUS takes review of #DOMA and Prop 8! Read up on Edie's case against DOMA: bit.ly/Q99jeQ #LGBT
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson:
SCOTUS to rule on #DOMA and Prop 8. Here's hoping they confirm that #gaymarriage is a constitutional right. Long overdue! #equality— Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson) December 07, 2012
SCOTUS to rule on #DOMA and Prop 8. Here's hoping they confirm that #gaymarriage is a constitutional right. Long overdue! #equality
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.:
V plsd #SCOTUS will review constitutionality of #DOMA & #Prop8! Congress must still act & pass Respect For Marriage Act repealdoma.com— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) December 07, 2012
V plsd #SCOTUS will review constitutionality of #DOMA & #Prop8! Congress must still act & pass Respect For Marriage Act repealdoma.com
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:
Supreme Court here we come. SCOTUS to hear #Prop8 case. Love will triumph over fear!— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) December 07, 2012
Supreme Court here we come. SCOTUS to hear #Prop8 case. Love will triumph over fear!
Justin Mikita, co-founder of TieTheKnot.org, which advocates "for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans":
Historic that SCOTUS will be hearing cases on Same Sex Marriage for the first time. This IS good news!— Justin Mikita (@JustinMikita) December 07, 2012
Historic that SCOTUS will be hearing cases on Same Sex Marriage for the first time. This IS good news!
Jessie Tyler Ferguson, another TieTheKnot.org co-founder and Mikita's finance:
Marriage Equality has finally made its way to the Supreme Court AND I'm on my way to @JimmyFallon to talk about @TieTheKnotOrg! What a day!— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) December 07, 2012
Marriage Equality has finally made its way to the Supreme Court AND I'm on my way to @JimmyFallon to talk about @TieTheKnotOrg! What a day!
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:
I'm confident Supreme Court will discard DOMA and Prop 8 into the dustbin of history. Let's get this over with and on to the future!— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) December 07, 2012
I'm confident Supreme Court will discard DOMA and Prop 8 into the dustbin of history. Let's get this over with and on to the future!
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there is no REASONALBE argument as to why two loving individuals should not be able to marry, GAY or straight....
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.
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.
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?
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.
Valkur – it is still a state by state decision.
Valkur: interracial marriage is considered offensive and wrong in some groups too.
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.
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.
@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.
if two guys get married who will get the head ache
It's about time. Mine and my partner's patience is running thin. After 23 years we want to make it legal and marry.
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.
Had we known your patience was running thin, we'd have gotten on this looooooooooong ago. So sorry.
Thank you Mark. I always wondered if that was the proper use of the word. You must be a riot at parties.
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.....
Of course gay marriage is going to be upheld. It's stupid to even debate this, or waste tax dollars over it.
We still have federal laws banning gays from getting married? Hahahaha. Simpletons.
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.
AND the Federal government cannot pass a law the says all states have to allow gay marriage. That would end up in court anyway.
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?
A little reading comprehension goes a long way...as does staying informed about current events.
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.
Soooo, you are saying it time to say that gay people are equal to the rest of us? About time!
"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?
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.
You missed the sarcasm.
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.
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!
Christians are no better than the Muslims that they hate.
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.
@ 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.
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.
Like when SCOTUS ruled that we had to let those uppity colored folks marry us white folks?
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?
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...
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!
You can live an honest moral life without ever having read or followed and darn thing from the bible.
Such as desegregation? Would you not agree that that was needed in this country?
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.
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
It is about STATE rights. It should be up to each state as to how it will define marriage.
Exactly,...just like slavery, i mean come on states rights!
jasonc obviously does not live in one of the states in this country. YES THERE ARE STATES RIGHTS! mor0n.
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?
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.
You're probably one of those fools who argue the Civil War was about states' rights.
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.
I think you missed the sarcasm in what he was saying. And to then call him a moron...
I can hear the Mormon fundraising (hate) machine cranking up from Utah!
There should never be gay marriage in this country.
Why not ? Other than some people's interpretation of their bible there is nothing wrong with it.
Yeah! Let's continue to treat a percentage of our population as second-class citizens because Robert thinks it's icky!
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?
Sounds great, then we can be proud to have civil rights on par with most of the middle east.
there will be, Robert. you are free to leave
Hey all you BIGOTS south of Dixie.....GAY Marriage be coming your way very soon. LOL
Cool, thanks Nimrod.
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