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. Adnan

    What about multiple marriages?

    I have a wife and would like to have another one, can that happen?

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

      Apples and oranges

      December 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • abkohler06

      Adnan... I honestly believe that you should be able to. It is not really the same thing nor would I advise it because you would then have multiple mother-in-laws. MORE LOVE, NOT MORE HATE

      December 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Why shouldn't it be allowed?

      December 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • melson3

      in rural Utah.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • R.Williams

      Hey, polygamy is Biblical.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Truthhurts

    slaves don't have the right to life or their biological parents. So why should the kids of liberal parents.

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

      Say WHAT?!?!

      December 8, 2012 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Hodor

    Hodor!!

    December 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • MetalRules

      Hodor!!

      December 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. FirstInHate

    If gay folks want to be as miserable as the rest of us in wedded bliss, I won't stand in their way.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Good One.

      December 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • How sad.

      So unoriginal, and so sad.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Truth

    Make love not war?

    December 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    Justice Roberts to the rescue. The Decider.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BlackDynamite

    Roger Goodell is headed to Washington?
    BD

    December 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Finally

    It's about time. We need to legalize gay marriage everywhere and outlaw religion......all religions.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seasley

      Delete religion from government and we will be okay. Hopefully this passes I would love to marry my girlfriend! -Military

      December 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tom

    my gay agenda won't be completely realized until I can get gay-married on a Christian family's front lawn and use their children as my ushers.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crymore

      Let go of your hate Tom. Three words for you my uneducated friend: Equal Protection Clause. Look it up!

      December 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom

      oh honey – you really don't get sarcasm, do you? See ya girl.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • soyouthink

      why Christian family? why not muslim?

      December 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Sir Dude

      tom: They're not insane, they're sanity challenged. You're giving insane people a bad name there...

      December 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jimbobogie

    IMHO, gay marraige has to be "all-or-nothing" and my reasoning does not involve property rights. If a gay couple is married and one of them is charged with a federal offence, can the other spouse be compelled to testify-or will it depend on where the case is tried? This is a potential legal nightmare that will have hundreds of lawyers and their clerks heading for their nearest luxury car dealerships ASAP!.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Steve

    Let me ask all of you that are for gay marriage a question. Do you also believe that if two siblings want to get married they should have that right? or what if someone wants to marry their dog or cat? I mean after all we should give "EQUAL" rights to EVERYONE right?

    December 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      seriously? people still want to make an argument about marrying animals? come on now, how about you actually be serious about this.
      as for 2 siblings marrying.....if they are brother and sister you would be ok with that right? afterall its 1 man and 1 woman. or do you have another reason as to why it should not be allowed?

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

      ignorant question

      December 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom

      Hi Steve. I want to get gay-married on your lawn. Your wife will be become our hag. And your children our ushers. Thaaaaanks....

      December 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ddon

      Right!

      December 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • marshu

      How are these questions even relevant ?

      December 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • arothmanmusic

      Pretty simple, actually. Dogs and cats aren't citizens, so no, you can't marry them. As for marrying your siblings... I don't see why not. Then again, we don't have a significant portion of our population clamoring for the right to marry their sister or brother, so I doubt the court will have to weigh in on that one.

      I will be interested to hear the court's opinion on this. Frankly, I'm not quite sure how they justify the government's involvement in 'approving couples' at all. I'd like to see the state entirely out of the marriage business altogether so that we're not only not discriminating against gay people, but also single people, people who don't want a marriage, etc. We made a mistake by giving couples special rights in the first place... the better decision would be to have a civil contract for anyone who wants one and to take 'marriage' off the books completely.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      How do you compare the two? I

      December 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      You're serious? You're comparing millions and millions of consenting adults to dogs and cats? Did you hear that line on the radio or in church? Gay marriage does not justify bestiality, child molestation, or incest. In fact, incest is practiced among millions of people as well, so whether or not they can get married is another issue to be tackled, but consenting gay adults who want to join together legally, you really have a problem with that? How far south of Kentucky, and how far west of New Mexico are you?

      December 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • hate4noreason

      Hey Steve, do you believe that we should have freedom of relgion? Yes? So you believe I should have the right to practice my religion and sacrifice your children to my gods? No? Oh, you mean you believe that we can have a right to do something (like marry or practice faith) while still imposing reasonable limits (like preventing incest)? BTW Steve, do you believe inter-racial marriages should be legal? But won't that just lead to marrying goats and sisters?

      December 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • stu

      If you don't see the difference between those 3 things, you are beyond logic and beyond hope. Debating with you is pointless.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Straight Not Narrow

      It's about CONSENT. Dogs and cats cannot consent. Children cannot consent. Furniture and buildings cannot consent. Adults can. End of story.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Generally, the idea is two consenting adults. As animals can't legally consent to anything, that would be a no. If a pair of siblings of legal age want to get married, that is there business (albeit gross to the rest of us)

      December 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • RickJamesMemphis

      Oh grow up! You know the difference!

      December 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • mm1970

      marriage is between two people, so your dog/cat analogy is false. Dogs and cats cannot enter into any kind of contract.

      As far as siblings go...I guess I don't have an opinion on that one.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Last time I checked animals couldn't consent to marry. As for siblings, there are genuine natural reasons why siblings coupling is undesirable; however, cousins can, and from a purely moral perspective, if 2 adults love each other and want to commit to each other, I don't actually feel it's any of my, your, or anyone else's business to stop them. You might also want to add polygamy to your list. As long as everyone is a consenting adult, why should anyone else care if they chose not to be monogomous? Besides, it's in the Bible, so it's ok, right?

      Regardless all of that, I'm not totally sure what your point is. The things you mention are clearly different to 2 loving, unrelated, adults, choosing to formalize their commitment to each other. My question to you would be, what are you afraid of? How does the 2 gay dudes down the street having the same rights you have impact your life?

      December 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnC

      No, I don't but thankfully that's not what is being asked about right now. If you want to argue that allowing gay marriage will lead to those then we should never have allowed mixed race marriages. No way gays would push hard for marriage rights if even mixed race hetero couples couldn't. When it comes to people's rights you can't use the 'silppery slope' argument - decided each request for rights on it's own merits.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • hot

      or even a man and a woman!

      December 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • JTS

      That's the "slippery slope" fallacy. Gay marriage is what it is, and nothing more. Any other proposed change to legal qualifications for marriage would have to pass muster on its own merits or lack thereof. Certainly, to equate human beings with animals, inamimate objects, etc., as you have done, is below contempt. In addition, marriage between gays in no way extends to other special relationships like child-adult, parent-offspring, sibling-sibling, etc. There are distinct and substantial reasons to disallow these, such as protecting children. As to the sibling question, which I actually think is a fair one, the difference is that the right of marriage currently is being denied based on gender, which can only be justified based on tradition. Denying marriage based on being a sibling is not as comprehensive (denying marriage to a very small class - an individual's relations) as denying marriage to a very large class.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      My point is that is unnatural. There's a reason 2 men or 2 women can't conceive a child. That's just the way God intended it to be. Don't get me wrong I don't hate gay people, I just disagree with their lifestyle.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frightening

      It frightens me how people like you have such a difficult time understanding the concept of CONSENT. I mean, do you even know what that means? I hope so, because if you don't, I fear for the safety of all the children in your family.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Frightening, 2 siblings over 18 can consent

      December 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnC

      Steve, you said "My point is that is unnatural. There's a reason 2 men or 2 women can't conceive a child". First it's not the norm but that's very different than unnatural. A man or a woman that is infertile is also not the norm, but still natural and still allowed to get married.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      'There's a reason 2 men or 2 women can't conceive a child'

      Well now you are making the mistake in thinking the purpose of marriage is to have kids.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnC

      Two siblings are banned for the case that they do have a child which is very often a problem. Personally if they get sterilized first I don't have a stake against preventing them to marry otherwise. But back to my earlier point - siblings or those other options aren't currently on the table but gay marriage is. And as I said, if the slippery slope toward those other options is your problem then you must have been against mixed race marriage too since that in part emboldened gays to ask for the right. Don't deny a right just because of the fear of what comes next - consider each request on it's own merits. Allowing gays to marry will lead to more stable relationships which is good. Denying marriage won't reduce the number of gays. Allowing them to marry won't harm my hetero marriage one little bit so I'm not worried.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • ladys

      @Steve, let me ask YOU something. Why do you think it's okay to draw the line at m/f, but not okay to move the line somewhere else? Fifty years ago, many states set the line at white m/white f and non-white m/non-white f only; should we have left the line there?

      Our laws draw lines for everything from speeding limits to drinking age to Presidential terms of office, and every single one of those has changed over the years. Why should marriage be any different?

      December 7, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. GenericBigot

    Hi there! My name is Generic Bigot, and I'm going to be angry and mad about something that doesn't affect my quality of life or interfere with my daily activities in absolutely not way or shape. – No One Ever

    December 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul X

      <3 <3 <3 this!

      December 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SJR

    Our parents and grandparents believed that marriage and and family were sacred then why is this younger generation so eager to fight and go against what is righteous. Whatever happened to fearing God? Doing what is right because it says so in the Bible; Marriage is between man and women. Not men and men or womwn to women.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      ok, seriously, god has no place in this, you take your personal faith and practise it yourself, dont dictate to others how they should behave due to YOUR faith.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • JWT

      This has nothing to do with religion. Your interpretation of your religion means nothing to anyone else. Nor should it.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • bt man

      whatever happened to the fear of the flying spaghetti monster?

      December 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Straight Not Narrow

      How about doing what's right because it's RIGHT, not because of what some book says?

      December 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • arothmanmusic

      And our grandparents' grandparents believed that marriage was a way to expand your family's wealth and blood line, and had nothing to do with love or God at all. Times change.

      Furthermore, God and state licenses have zero to do with each other. You don't have to believe in any God to walk into a court house and get married, so that shouldn't have any bearing on the law. Marriages aren't just for religious people.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • snowboarder

      education is relegating a fear of god to the back burner.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom

      simply sjr – god doesn't exist. It's made up nonsense believed by naive, weak-minded twits who need faith to deal with reality.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • stu

      Your religion means nothing to me and should mean nothing to the law.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crymore

      SJR people grew up. They learned to think for themselves and stop believing in magic men in the sky and the people here who say they exist.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoZealotsPlease

      Marriage existed before the Bible, but nice try. The more you grasp and hate and fearmonger, the sweeter these victories are for us. I'm straight, but I worked hundreds of hours to help pass marriage equality in WA state and we did it. I'll be pitying your small mind and your self-inflicted constant worry, fear and misery while I officiate the marriage of two male friends on Sunday afternoon. Enjoy your misery!

      December 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • R.Williams

      Many 'parents and grandparents' also believed interracial marriage was wrong, as well as interfaith. Just because the previous generations believed it doesn't make it right.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul X

      Why would anyone fear God? God is *loving* What kind of effed up religious belief is that?

      December 7, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Me

    Gonna be fun to watch if the gays lose, the crying will never stop....

    December 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • medlab1701

      Yes, we will cry. and then we'll pick ourselves up and do what Maine did – fight and win to repeal this bigoted proposition itself!

      December 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Really....get a hankie Bubba...you'll be weeping soon. The laws are clear...no discrimination...get out of my bedroom!

      December 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crymore

      Actually I think this time we will see an amazing thing happen. The court will look at the law as it is written and apply it. Marriage is a contract and you cannot discriminate against people based on orientation when it comes to them.

      December 7, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mark

    Saying your god doesn't want gays to marry is like me saying the tooth fairy told that interracial couples shouldn't marry. You just sounds like crazy bigots.

    December 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
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