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. Rudenz

    The Supreme Court ruled that it is not equal under the law. Its about equal rights.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hoss

    Well that's a god not worth worshipping. I feel sorry for you that you idolize such a shallow individual.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. Safe in Texas

    Amen! Such a shame.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rudenz

    The Supreme Court ruled that it is not equal under the law. It has nothing to do with what your religion tells you. Its about equal rights.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. B Clark

    This is the best news I have heard in a long time from our government. I am full of tears!

    June 26, 2013 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. PINK3

    very disappointing....

    June 26, 2013 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff s

      What is? The fact that you don't want other people treated the same as you? The fact that you want freedom to be exclusive to you based on how you believe as oppose to the birth right it is?

      June 26, 2013 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. NC Mom

    Its all about equal rights and the pursuit of happiness. It has no impact whatsoever on my 47 year traditional marriage that gays have the same rights. Committed relationships are good, and the rights that support them are good for all. If you aren't gay this simply should be irrelevant to you.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. DarqueSide

    Score TWO for the civilized world! HOOORAY!

    June 26, 2013 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  9. The REAL Truth...

    We need a change on this 5-4 SCOTUS.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • sosueme

      Agreed. It should have been 9-0.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Liberatus

    Seriously? It's the gays and lesbians who want to be married and committed to one another who are causing the US to go to hell? What about the millions of straight men and women who have made a mockery of marriage, divorcing on a whim and getting married multiple times?

    June 26, 2013 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Drew

      No more room for hate and discrimination in the law! For the self righteous Christians out there, the bible has a lot things in it telling us what we can and can't do, and I am pretty sure that none of you follows it 100%. You are quick to judge others before judging yourself. Blindly follow a 2,000 year old manuscript without asking yourself why does the bible say this is wrong. A priest once told me that we should question the Bible, for you truly can not understand the importance of the meaning of the scriptures without first asking and understanding why is it important in the first place and not just because of the threat of damnation. In the course of human events, views and opinions have changed, some good and some bad. What was once right thousands of years ago does not necessarily mean it is right today and vice versa. Perhaps even GOD has changed his views but we wouldn't know would we? And you can not claim that GOD can not change his mind, for who are you to say that GOD can not? Defending marriage needs to start inside the home of the one who is defending it. Protect what it means to be married, the undying love, two souls act as one, not the baby factory you want it to make. Go after the ones who make a mockery out of marriage, the abuse, the infidelity.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Christianity is based on the bible, like or not, accept / agree or not/ don't care either way/ the fact remains if you fallow / claim to be a Christian then the bible is your code of ethos/ ethics, it plainly states homosexuality is an abomination to God, not just in the Old Testament, but the new as well, as for God changing his mind, since the bible is supposed to be the literal word of God, and it says God is the same yesterday today and forever, then there is no room for a change of mind, according to scriptures, if you don't agree / believe in it it dosnt matter to you anyway, I don't agree with homosexuality, however, I don't see any reason to make it illegal eventhough i am a christian, one the bible says obey the laws of authority as long as they don't conflict with Gods word, which my neighbor marrying his partner does not seeing as each human is responsible for there own actions when they die according to scripture, and two, the bible also says, I set before you life or death choose. Personal opinion.

      June 27, 2013 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • And Also

      To say nothing about breeders committing The Big A, Liberatus! Abortion!!

      June 26, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. crasha

    its not about equal rights just because one states they believe in gays, well i dont, and one cant say they believe in a god if they allow gays...#point blank!!

    June 26, 2013 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • boobybobbie

      How do you know God doesn't love gay people, and/or He said that multiple times in one of the apocryphal books?

      June 26, 2013 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • chaloner

      May this nation rot in hell!

      June 26, 2013 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Boocat

      If you believe "God" created everything, then "God" created gay people. You just lost this argument.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      crasha: your god is a snivelling punk, and so are you

      June 26, 2013 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Gordon Freeman

      Marriage under law isn't religious, so it's not subject to your opinion. Nobody's forcing gay marriage into your church.

      Also, believing in a god isn't inherently virtuous.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff s

      Well you definitely can't believe God isn't the creator of all things and then say you don't believe in "gays." I mean you either believe that God created all things an you respect that and understand that even if you do not like all the things he created, or you don't believe God created all things which means you believe there is some other "supreme' force in the world.

      I think you are confused about your beliefs. Please find your core beliefs and stick to them whether it includes God or not.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. Liberatus

    Thank you to all of our family members, friends, and neighbors who know us and love us-and know we want to be married for all of the right reasons. Your support has made this possible.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • lathebiosas

      Good, no chance of having a mistake like you disgusted

      June 26, 2013 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  13. Fred Evil

    Freedom and TRUE morality won today. If you rue this ruling, you have some serious soul-searching to do, because you are WRONG.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • NB123

      By ONE vote, not a victory by no means...

      June 26, 2013 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • RJW

      @NB

      Yes, it is a victory. The Supreme Court has ruled. The Court rules by majority rule. The law is dead. Deal with it bigot.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Raji the Green Witch

      NB123, Wrong one vote IS a victory. One vote is the difference between a majority and a minority decision and guess what? EQUAL rights for ALL has won.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Raji the Green Witch

      Disgusted, Traditional marriage, as a principle was ruined long ago by King Henry VIII when he divorced his wife. Gays had nothing at all to do with the downfall of marriage. If anything this is a move to support marriage. Gays are just like everyone else and are just as likely to have steady and secure marriages as anyone else.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • MM

      "By ONE vote, not a victory by no means..."

      Actually, considering that this takes the full force of the law, yes, it is a victory.

      And a 5-4 majority is still a majority of judges.

      It's okay. You'll get used to it one day.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff s

      @disgusted Marriage is what you make it. Not what others define it.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. Himadri pal

    Songes

    June 26, 2013 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jeb

    Dear Right Wing Nuts

    As a natiion, we are moving forward into the 21st century with or without you.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • kns

      AMEN – thank you!

      June 26, 2013 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      That is cute. You actually think we are moving forward.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • cw

      Jim, and it is cute you think we're not.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeb

      Clearly without you Jim.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
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