Supreme Court gives two big victories for gay rights
June 26th, 2013
12:12 PM ET

Supreme Court gives two big victories for gay rights

  • The Supreme Court issues two key rulings affecting same-sex marriage in the U.S.  
  • Part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down
  • The justices also cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California after rejecting an appeal on the state's Proposition 8
  • Refresh this page for the latest news, analysis and reaction

[Updated at 12:12 p.m. ET] It's the end of a busy morning of momentous rulings from the Supreme Court. We're still working on getting analysis on and reaction to the two landmark decisions that will impact marriage between same-sex couples in the United States and we'll bring that to you on CNN.com, CNN's mobile apps and CNN TV.

We'll sign off this live blog now, thanks for reading. Here are links to more of the coverage we already have:

Our main story: Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage hailed as historic victory

Details on the DOMA case: Supreme Court strikes down federal provision on same-sex marriage benefits

Details on the Proposition 8 case: Supreme Court dismisses California's Proposition 8 appeal

From CNN Money: The financial impact of the same-sex marriage ruling

Gay celebrities who are married or engaged

Same-sex marriage by the numbers

[Updated at 11:49 a.m. ET] Religion and marriage are intricately tied together for many and our Belief blog co-editor Daniel Burke has got a range of reaction from believers and non-believers.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is one of those looking at the decisions through a religion lens:

[Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET] Both the decisions affecting same-sex marriage were 5-4 splits. And the dissenting justices put out some strong opinions of their own.

Justice Scalia on the DOMA case:

Few public controversies touch an institution so central to the lives of so many, and few inspire such attendant passion by good people on both sides. Few public controversies will ever demonstrate so vividly the beauty of what our Framers gave us, a gift the Court pawns today to buy its stolen moment in the spotlight: a system of government that permits us to rule ourselves.

Some will rejoice in today's decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters to much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.

Justice Kennedy on the Proposition 8 case:

What the Court fails to grasp or accept is the basic premise of the initiative process. And it is this. The essence of democracy is that the right to make law rests in the people and flows to the government, not the other way around. Freedom resides first in the people without need of a grant from government. The California initiative process embodies these principles and has done so for over a century... In California and the 26 other States that permit initiatives and popular referendums, the people have exercised their own inherent sovereign right to govern themselves. The Court today frustrates that choice.

[Updated at 11:35 a.m. ET] Kris Perry, one of the key figures in the Proposition 8 case, said it was a victory not just for couples wanting to wed but also children. "No matter where you live, no matter who your parents are, no matter what kind of family you're in, you are equal, you are as good as your friends' parents and your friends."

She added: "We can go back to California and say to our own children - all four of our boys - your family is just as good as everybody else's family."

[Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET] There are a lot of rainbow flags flying today. Including on Google if you search "gay."

[Updated at 11:11 a.m. ET] Family Research Council president Tony Perkins released a statement saying his group was "disappointed" in the DOMA ruling and "disturbed" by the detail of the Proposition 8 decision but that it also took some heart from the Supreme Court's actions.

“Their refusal to redefine marriage for all states is a major setback for those seeking to redefine natural marriage," he said. "Time is not on the side of those seeking to create same-sex ‘marriage.’ As the American people are given time to experience the actual consequences of redefining marriage, the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify."

He concluded: “What is inevitable is that the male and female relationship will continue to be uniquely important to the future of society. The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad. We will continue to work to restore and promote a healthy marriage culture, which will maximize the chances of a child being raised by a married mother and father.”

[Updated at 11:08 a.m. ET] The Human Rights Campaign, which has pushed for LGBT equality, is declaring two "monumental victories." Here's the top of their statement:

In recent years, California’s Proposition 8 and the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act became symbols of anti-LGBT discrimination around the country and around the world. Today, both crumbled.
In a watershed moment in the fight for equality, the United States Supreme Court today ruled to return marriage equality to California and to strike down DOMA. The court ruled in the Prop 8 case on procedural grounds, not reaching a decision on the merits of Prop 8 or the broader question of whether the Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to marry the person you love.
Marriages in California are expected to begin again soon. While a joyous milestone, these victories nonetheless throw into sharp relief the uneven progress for LGBT people around the country—a landscape where states like California are rapidly advancing toward equality, but progress in many other places remains stagnant.

[Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET] A little more detail on exactly what the Proposition 8 decision by the Supreme Court means: By dismissing the case, the decision will allow for the lower court decision in California that allows for same-sex marriage to be reinstated. The appeals court stay on the decision will be lifted.

[Updated at 10:59 a.m. ET] Here's what Hollywood is saying - some reactions from celebrities, many of whom have campaigned for gay rights.

And this is George Takei on Facebook:

Today marks a watershed moment in history and a tremendous victory for the principle of equality. The 5-4 decision by our Supreme Court striking down DOMA affirms the universality of love–the desire of all people not only to find, but to value and affirm, a lifelong commitment to another person.

I have lived nearly four score years, and have borne witness to both the heartbreak and promise of true justice and equality in America. Today my heart soars, and my faith in the promise of our great nation is renewed.

Now, if there's anything we gays know how to do well, it is to celebrate! Let the joy of this day ring out with PRIDE.

[Updated at 10:47 a.m. ET] The key couples in the California case just held their arms aloft in celebration on the steps of the Supreme Court building. "This is a great day for America," said one of their lawyers, David Boies.

[Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET] So what's your reaction to the rulings today?

[Updated at 10:38 a.m. ET] It sounds like we'll be looking into these rulings for a while – Jeffrey Toobin just said the Proposition 8 case was "a puzzling decision" and a "puzzling" line-up of justices who backed the decision.

The opinion about Proposition 8 was written by Chief Justice Roberts who was joined by Justice Scalia, a conservative, and three liberals – Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Kagan.

[Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET] Same-sex marriage can resume in California - that's the result of the Supreme Court ruling just in that dismisses an appeal regarding California's Proposition 8.

From our colleague Bill Mears:

The Supreme Court has dismissed a closely-watched appeal over same-sex marriage on jurisdictional grounds, ruling Wednesday private parties do not have "standing" to defend California's voter-approved ballot measure barring gay and lesbians couples from state-sanctioned wedlock. The ruling permits same-sex couples in California to legally marry. The 5-4 decision avoids for now a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally-protected "equal protection" right that would apply to all states. The case is Hollingsworth v. Perry (12-144).

[Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET] New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told CNN the ruling was a "great win." "“A great win not just for the gay community, it’s a great win for the American tradition of equal justice under the law,” he said.

[Updated at 10:29 a.m. ET] House Speaker John Boehner was just asked about the DOMA case, but he declined comment until he's read the ruling.

[Updated at 10:26 a.m. ET] The ruling on Proposition 8 - California's ban on same-sex marriage - is in.

[Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET] And yes, the president was watching. His Twitter account is calling the DOMA ruling "a historic step forward," though it's not signed with the "bo" that shows he wrote it.

[Updated at 10:22 a.m. ET] President Obama was going to be monitoring the rulings on Air Force One as he heads to Senegal, CNN's Jessica Yellin reports.

[Updated at 10:17 a.m. ET] Supporters of same-sex marriage waiting outside the Supreme Court cheered the DOMA decision. Reaction is also coming in from Twitter.

DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that "finally" all married couples would get benefits.

[Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET] Of course we can't draw any conclusions from the DOMA ruling about which way the justices will decide on California's Proposition 8. 

[Updated at 10:12 a.m. ET] The justices were split 5-4. The majority ruling was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Dissents were written by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito.

[Updated at 10:09 a.m. ET] Legal expert Jeffrey Toobin puts the ruling in context: "DOMA is gone."

[Updated at 10:08 a.m. ET] From our team in Washington:

The Supreme Court has struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits.

[Updated at 10:06 a.m. ET] This is the case where Edie Windsor said she had to pay more in inheritance tax than warranted because her spouse was a woman not a man.

[Updated at 10:02 a.m. ET] We're reading the decision to see how the justices ruled regarding the rights of legally married same-sex couples to receive federal benefits provided to heterosexual spouses.

[Updated at 10:01 a.m. ET] There is a ruling in the DOMA case.

[Updated at 10:00 a.m. ET] So it's 10 a.m. in the nation's capital and the Supreme Court should be sitting. No cameras inside the court of course, so we can only assume they are good timekeepers.

[Updated at 9:54 a.m. ET] Two days ago Lady Gaga called on the Supreme Court to "make history & stand for MARRIAGE EQUALITY." That's now been retweeted nearly 14,000 times. But will it have had any impact on the nine justices?

[Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET] Here are some of the people who weren't specifically part of the cases argued before the Supreme Court but who will almost certainly be affected by the rulings. CNN's Moni Basu profiled gay couples who are at the center of two big political debates – same-sex marriage and immigration.

[Updated at 9:44 a.m. ET] While we're waiting for the opinions to be delivered, here's Donna Brazile's take on yesterday's landmark ruling on the Voting Rights Act. The Democratic strategist says it's time for President Obama and Congress to pass a new Voting Rights Act.

[Updated at 9: 40 a.m. ET] A quick reminder that you can watch our reporting live on CNN TV as well as refreshing this page and staying with CNN on CNN.com and our mobile apps.

[Updated at 9:19 a.m. ET] Large crowds are gathering outside the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. and on social media. Right now we can see rainbow gay pride banners and blue flags with a yellow "=" sign that is a standard of those fighting for more rights for same-sex couples. Not in view are groups who support traditional marriage between a man and a woman, but that's not to say they're not there. Both sides were strongly represented when the Supreme Court heard the arguments back in March.

On Twitter, #DOMA will probably start trending soon. There's certainly a lot of people tweeting about the Supreme Court today.

The Tie the Knot organization that wants marriage equality tweeted "The big day is here."

It's no surprise that GLAAD wants marriage equality.

Or that the Family Research Council is backing traditional unions.

And this, from CNN legal eagle Jeffrey Toobin:

[Posted at 9:05 a.m. ET] It's set to be the last public day of the Supreme Court session, and we're waiting for opinions in three cases - two of which address same-sex marriage.

It's widely expected that we'll get rulings on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8, and those rulings could affect the lives, rights and finances of millions of Americans.

CNN Supreme Court producer Bill Mears writes that DOMA, passed in 1996, defines marriage as between one man and one woman for federal purposes, like taxes. "That means the estimated 120,000 gay and lesbian couples legally married in nine states and the District of Columbia are still considered - in the eyes of DOMA opponents - the equivalent of girlfriend and boyfriend."

That meant that Edie Windsor faced a hefty bill for inheritance taxes when her partner of 42 years died. She claimed in court that she had had to pay $363,053 more than if her spouse, thea Spyer, had been a man.

But Mears points out that the DOMA issue is more than just a financial question:

The larger debate over DOMA's intent and impact 17 years after passage has driven a wedge between the executive and legislative branches.

At issue is what role the federal government should play when it comes to marriage - something states have traditionally controlled.

The other key case expected to be decided today considers Proposition 8. "In the 'Prop 8' case, the high court is being asked to establish a constitutional 'equal protection' right. It is the kind of hot-button issue that will define our society, our laws, our views on family," Mears writes.

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Filed under: Justice • Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
soundoff (1,141 Responses)
  1. kgala

    Next, get rid of discrimination between married and single people and the country would be even a better place.

    June 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gary

    When did disagreement and hate become synonymous? I don’t agree with today’s decision for my own reasons but that doesn’t mean I hate anyone and it doesn’t make me a begot. Love doesn’t equal acceptance either. Just because I love my children doesn’t mean I will always accept everything they do or let them do whatever they want. Many of the people that have commented on here today must feel that I have to agree with everything you do to love you. That’s silly. I would dare say if that’s the measure of love there would be no love in the world at all. There’s probably no one that you agree with 100% of the time. So quit the whining and name calling when people disagree with you. It just means you’re disagreed with, not hated.

    June 26, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rikki

      I respect your right to your opinion. But disagreements become hate when they turn into laws that discriminate against an entire body of people. You're not a bigot for disagreeing with gay marriage if your dissent is rooted in a reason other than the standard "marriage is between a man and a woman" party line. But if not for that reason, what logical reason could one think of to deny federal and state rights to millions of people and their families?

      June 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • samson

      Both the judge and the people who engage in such practice should better repent else, God punishment of fire and brimstone awaits them. it was the same in the city of Sodom and Gomorrah and God destroyed them with fire and brimstone

      June 27, 2013 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. StephenK

    Jay said: "I think the hypocrisy in the gay community is hysterical. See, gay people are generally radically opposed to religion, and have even shown an unwillingness to accept the religious views of others, yet they have been 'fighting' for the 'right' to participate in a historically religious practice. Funny!"

    – Proof that you misunderstand this issue on several levels. Gay couples haven't been fighting for the right to participate in any religious practice, historical or otherwise. They've been fighting for the right to enjoy the same civil procedural rights and privileges as heterosexual couples enjoy. Plus, I'm not sure where you get the "generally radically opposed" part; my friends who are gay are actually quite religious. And they've shown themselves perfectly willing to accept religious beliefs of others, including my own very non-Christian views, right up to the point where other Christians condemn them and say they're going to the very hot place for all eternity.

    June 26, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lord Yabu

    Hillary & Bill signed off on this discriminatory law so Bill could be president. He & She are HATERS & BIGOTS.

    June 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rick Watson

    The five Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of this measure should be impeached. They have just destroyed the sanctity and purpose of Holy matrimony. When Christ returns for the rapture Home, these five idiots will be held accountable by the One Vote that matters.

    June 26, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Christy Canyon

    The new policy is for "SAME SEX" marriage and the benefits therein. It is not specifically for GAYS. This opens the door for tremendous wealth to move unrestricted via marriage, separation agreements and divorce. THANKS. We conservatives will enjoy the new world and prosper !! ha ha

    June 26, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SBWill

    I agree with their ruling, (with what I have had time to read) in basic understanding separation of church and state is imperative. It allows religious community to maintain their autonomy and the government its ability to remain flexible to a changing populous and there is no denying that popular sentiment has changed and as it should the government listened to its people and put forth a ruling with the interpretation of "legality". That is the key word in these actions "legality". As a member of the religious community I feel it must be understood by my fellows that what is legal and what our devotion and scripture tell us will diverge. It is unto us to be true to our own beliefs. This is no way against us, this in no way hurts us. It is a legal ruling that has precedence in the physical world and it is the right ruling for the world for the people in it, but in no means affects religion. Our religion is only as strong as we the community are, therefore we should only mind ourselves and not others. Assist those seeking answers and give hope to those that have lost all. People deserve to be happy and just because we disagree with what makes them so does not mean we have the right to pass judgment upon them or persecute them in anyway.

    The only thing I would like to see changed in the discussion is nominal. They deserve the same rights yes, but marriage is a religious practice and that should be left to the religious communities to discuss and come to an agreement for each respective faith. Even internally we are a varying people and disagree within our own interpretations. Look at how many different denominations there are of Christianity, the sects of Jewish and Islamic faiths. The government should br using the verbiage civil unions for both hetro and same sex couples. to further give credence to religions oversight into what they see as "marriage"

    fffff

    June 26, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lord Toronaga

    ***********************************************************************
    It says SAME SEX not GAY....so.... Me and my buddy Lord Yabu are going to get married. We will move our assets around to facilitate a business deal. File for divorce. Get a separation agreement....all legal. Then have the judge sign off on it and escape all the tax consequences. Then we officially divorce..... Thanks a lot. I love this country. This is absolutely the greatest gift ever from the left. THANKS Rachael MADDOW soooooo much for your assistance.
    *****************************************************************************

    June 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AFavorite

    Just remember this...
    If God hated Homosexuals,
    He would stop the Hetrosexuals from making more.

    June 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Adam

    So what's next? Pedophiles get equal rights too?!!? They claim they were also born that way which is complete bull just like gay people making such a claim!

    June 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • LT

      WOW! What ignorance!

      June 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • RealBACONATOR2

      Pedophilia violates the rights of consent and security of the child involved, Same-sex-marriage violates no rights. How can you tell? When a couple down the street gets the same tax exemptions as you; there is no victim!!!

      June 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous

      Of course. Pedophiles should be allowed to marry any consenting adult they wish.

      June 26, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rikki

      Pedophiles already have more rights than gays do, as long as they're not convicted.

      June 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sly

    Wow ... next thing you know they'll let women and minorities vote in America.

    What is happening to our nation?

    June 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kyle

    Ok, opinions shouldn't have anything to do with this. Everyone should be able to be married to whoever they want. I also think everyone needs to really look at their opinions/beliefs and question why they believe them (about everything anyone ever taught you), nothing is absolute and the repetition/proliferation of one set of beliefs over a long period of time doesn't make it true.

    P.S. – If it's the 'marriage' term that everyone is trying to defend/keep pure, how about we just make another term that has the exact same benefits of marriage but with a different name.

    June 26, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Peter Wilson

    The court decisions are not a victory but a reminder of a sad state of modern affairs. The modern trend reinforces the singular material development that justifies human an entity of economic and subjective ambitious desires.

    Currently in the young generation, same sex is promoted alongside abortion. There is also an alarming rate of suicide in general. And at the same time, there are visible empty spaces in places where holistic development is encouraged, and especially missing are the children. If adoption is also successful, give it another twenty years to exceed child bearing age of existing couples, and the absence of children would be obviously evident in this town.

    The thinning process of the singular strips and overwhelms the objective development responsible for the stability of rational reasoning and social coherence. In the absence of valid reason in the metaphysical layer, the material abstract rises to dominate behaviour. It is in keeping with current trends of materialism where decisions are based not on valid principles or their objective outcomes, but on popular opinions of selfish desires. And these popular opinions represent the majority of the young vote.

    For example social institutions such as labour representation in universal suffrage, traditional family and communities, religion, and society have given way to individuals of economic units coming together in aggregates to indulge not in social activities but to fulfil their own selfish desires. The stability of social organisation weakens to collapse the economy. It is prompted by forceful measures to control the population, and you have lost all your freedom and privacy.

    Getting back to principles, I refer to pure principles as original causes. The quantification of pure principles always produces objective outcomes. And objective outcomes of pure principles cannot be subjective. It is the failure of the objective process that is invalid in the secondary layer and the pure principle is not at fault.

    And there the arbitrary imposition legalising same sex union along with subjective popular opinions can never become principles in the secondary layer. They have to be purified and transcend into being. For example, Love as pure principle is not pure in the secondary layer of selfish and ambitious desires.

    Love in the pure sense transcends the material into being (metaphysical and intuitive reasoning), and love in the secondary layer is embodied by an abstract entity of desire that cannot be purified in the objective outcome both in the physical and the metaphysical layer.

    So, your so-called victory is a short term celebration of selfish and ambitious desires but at the expense of a long term descend on humanity.

    I have received some nasty replies from advocates of same sex marriage, but I expected it from the secondary layer of subjective existence.

    June 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Coast To Coast

    There Is JOYOUS CELEBRATION Going On All Across the Country Today and For Many Years to Come!! Since God created ALL, including Gays and Lesbians with their orientation, we can proudly declare that it is time to forget prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, scorn, and falsehoods about God's people. Let us all learn to get along and instead Love One Another as Jesus said we should do!

    June 26, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. We Are Family

    Now truly all Gays and Lesbians across America can declare proudly: We Are Family!!

    June 26, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
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