France is set to become the latest nation to legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday, despite vocal opposition from conservatives, when legislation goes before lawmakers in the lower house for a final vote.
The bill, which would also give same-sex couples the rights to adopt, was approved in the Senate earlier this month.
Since no amendments have been made during debate in the lower house, it will be the final vote on the legislation. The measure is expected to pass.FULL STORY
The French Senate will debate a controversial bill Thursday that would extend the right to marry and adopt to same-sex couples.
The lower house has already approved the legislation, in the face of large demonstrations from those opposed to the measure.
If it passes the Senate, it would mark the biggest step forward for French gay rights advocates in more than a decade.FULL STORY
[Updated at 1:36 p.m.] We're wrapping up Day 2 of the same-sex marriage court debate here - check out our main story for more detail and analysis as it comes today. As always, we want to hear from you.
[Updated at 1:20 p.m.] "I'm very optimistic that DOMA will be struck down, it has no rational basis for being," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said just now. Pelosi was at the Supreme Court to hear arguments over DOMA and California's Proposition 8 over the past two days.
Pelosi's district has been at the epicenter of gay rights for decades. She called the oral arguments at the Supreme Court "thrilling."
Day Two of the culture wars at the Supreme Court over same-sex marriage, and another opportunity for the justices to give political and legal clarity to a contentious issue.
The momentous week kicked off on Tuesday with arguments over California's same-sex marriage ban, and there was little indication when they concluded how the court might rule.
The stakes are high as the justices could, in one scenario, fundamentally alter how American law treats marriage with polls showing the public becoming more aware of the issue, and in some cases, more in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to legally wed.FULL STORY
[Updated at 12:48 p.m. ET] We're signing off on this end for now - check out our main story for more detail and analysis as it comes today. We answer your questions here, and want to hear from you here.
Don't forget to join us again here tomorrow, when the Supreme Court hears the second round of debate on same-sex marriage: the Defense of Marriage Act.
[Updated at 12:31 p.m. ET] Director Rob Reiner, who watched today’s oral arguments, is a vocal critic against Proposition 8. Here's what he had to say after court adjourned:
“Today is a historic day for all those who believe in freedom and equality. After more than four years of working our case through victories at the federal District and Circuit courts, we finally had an opportunity today to present our arguments in support of marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans before the highest court in the land. This case has always been about the love shared by two individuals and about the central promise from our nation’s founding that all men are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights, including the pursuit of happiness.
[Updated at 12:11 p.m. ET] Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, tells reporters outside the court that he believes both sides of the argument have agreed that it is impossible to know with certainly how society would change by redefining "a fundamental institution such as marriage.
[Updated at 12:04 p.m. ET] “Today we feel we clearly presented the winning case for marriage,” says Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, who is speaking with reporters now.
[Updated at 12:01 p.m. ET] Charles Cooper, lead counsel defending Proposition 8, told reporters that he couldn't sum up his argument in a couple of sentences. "We believe Proposition 8 is constitutional," he said, making a brief statement.
[Updated at 11:48 a.m. ET] Kris Perry, a plaintiff in the Prop 8 case, just spoke, saying: "In this country as children, we learn that there's a founding principle, that all men and women are created equal. … Unfortunately with the passage of Proposition 8, we learned that there are group of people in California who are not being treated equally."
"We look forward to a day when prop 8 is officially eliminated and equality is restored to the state of California."
[Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET] Republican Ted Olson and Democrat David Boies, who joined forces to argue against Prop 8, are speaking outside the courthouse now. What's important from today, Olson said, is "the American people were listening to the argument. The other side, nobody really offered a defense."
"We're very gratified they listened, they heard, they asked hard questions, (but) there is no denying where the right is, and we hope the court (rules that way) in June."
[Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET] According to Toobin, there were a lot of questions along these lines from Justices Scalia and Alito: We don’t know the effects of same sex parenting on children, so why don’t we wait and let the states go experiment? Why do we, the Supreme Court, have to get involved in this process?
Toobin said Roberts also seemed sympathetic to these questions.
[Updated at 11:39 a.m. ET] The attorney general and the governor of California have refused to defend Prop 8. So the question, Toobin says, is "Who can defend the law? Who has the standing?" The answer to that question will be key to resolving the case.
Conservative Justices Scalia, Alito and Roberts were "very hostile of idea of the court imposing same sex marriage," according to Toobin. The four Democratic justices seemed favorably disposed.
Justice Kennedy seemed like he was in the middle, he said things that would "give comfort for both sides," Toobin says. Kennedy suggested the issue was brought prematurely before the court.
[Updated at 11:37 a.m. ET] The justices seemed very focused on how Prop 8 affects children, with Justice Kagan at some point suggesting that California have a law allowing same-sex marriage for people past child-bearing age, Toobin said.
Kagan said, according to Toobin: “I assure you if two 55 year old people, there aren’t a lot of children (coming from that marriage).”
[Updated at 11:34 a.m. ET] "This was a deeply divided Supreme Court, a court that seemed groping for answers," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said after watching the arguments. "Now I think its even harder to predict the result of this case after hearing this argument."
[Updated at 11:31 a.m. ET] Oral arguments have wrapped up, according to CNN Supreme Court producer Bill Mears. They went just a bit over schedule, lasting about one hour and 20 minutes.
[Updated at 11:23 a.m. ET] While we wait on word from the courthouse, consider this: A new CNN/ORC International Poll indicates that 53% of Americans support same-sex marriage. In the same survey, 57% of respondents said they had a family member or close friend who is gay or lesbian.
Here's a look at the issue, by the numbers.
[Updated at 11:06 a.m. ET] The same-sex marriage debate is a huge issue, and the lawyers inside were penciled in for an hour to make their cases. Doesn't sound like much time, but to be fair, the oral arguments regarding the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") last March lasted roughly two hours.
Tomorrow's DOMA arguments have been given one hour and 50 minutes. We'll see if they stay on schedule today.
[Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET] If all is going to plan, Jean Podrasky, a lesbian whose first cousin happens to be Chief Justice John Roberts, is inside the court hearing the arguments.
"I know that my cousin is a good man," she wrote in an op-ed this week. "I feel confident that John is wise enough to see that society is becoming more accepting of the humanity of same-sex couples and the simple truth that we deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and equality under the law."
You might see a lot of red avatars with a “=” equal sign in your Twitter feed today. Supporters of marriage rights for same-sex couples are wearing red today to show their support – both on their persons and their social media accounts. That includes Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced for the first time Monday she supports marriage rights for same-sex couples, saying that "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."
"America is at its best when we champion the freedom and dignity of every human being," Clinton said in a video produced by the Human Rights Campaign.FULL STORY
Hours after Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced he reversed his position on same-sex marriage, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he won't second guess Portman but he's not entirely embracing the Ohio senator's change of heart, either.
Portman told CNN's Dana Bash that after his 21-year-old son came out two years ago, he came to the conclusion that same-sex marriage "is something that we should allow people to do."FULL STORY
You probably recognize Sen. Rob Portman from his tireless campaigning for Mitt Romney in 2012. He was even on the short list to be Romney's running mate.
He's been a leading Republican voice on economic issues for four decades.
Now, the prominent Ohio conservative will be known for something else: reversing his hardline position against gay marriage.
He invited CNN to his Senate office to reveal the news.
"I'm announcing today a change of heart on an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about that has to do with gay couples' opportunity to marry," Portman told CNN.
It has to do with another revelation, one deeply personal. His 21-year-old son, Will, is gay.FULL STORY
The questions go to the heart of the issue, presenting possible scenarios some may find challenging.
The Boy Scouts of America, now considering a change in the group's longstanding policy against allowing openly gay members, has sent out surveys to leaders and parents.
The survey asks nine questions on the issue that go beyond a simple yes or no. Among them: Is it acceptable or unacceptable for a gay scout and a straight scout to share a tent on an overnight camping trip?
The five multiple-choice answers range from "totally acceptable" to "totally unacceptable."FULL STORY
President Barack Obama faces a monumental choice today over whether to put the force of his office behind the idea that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.
Government sources say the Justice Department will by day's end articulate a legal position in the so-called Proposition 8 case, a ban by California voters over same-sex marriage that is now being challenged in the Supreme Court.FULL STORY
In a preview of a major constitutional showdown at the Supreme Court over same-sex marriage, the Obama administration said Friday that a federal law denying financial benefits to legally wed gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional.
The Justice Department filed the first of a series of briefs in a pair of cases dealing with the multi-layered issue, outlining the executive branch's positions.
The high court will hear oral arguments next month on the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 congressional law that says, for federal purposes, marriage is defined only as between one man and one woman.FULL STORY
A writer commissioned to help launch a new "Adventures of Superman" digital comics series is drawing controversy for the comics' publisher not for his perception of the Man of Steel, but for his perception of marriage - specifically, his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Science fiction writer Orson Scott Card has been commissioned by longtime "Superman" publisher DC Comics to write a two-part story launching its new "Adventures of Superman" digital series. Card is perhaps best known for the classic 1985 sci-fi novel "Ender's Game," but he also has sparked controversy with his outspoken criticism of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
In a 2004 essay titled "Homosexual 'Marriage' and Civilization," Card wrote, "... either civilized people will succeed in establishing a government that protects the family...or the politically correct barbarians will have complete victory over the family - and, lacking the strong family structure on which civilization depends, our civilization will collapse or fade away."
News that Card would be among writers on the new "Adventures of Superman" digital comics prompted marriage-equality group AllOut.org to launch a petition drive aimed at DC Comics.
The Illinois Senate passed a measure Thursday to legalize same-sex marriage, voting 34-21.
The state House will consider it next. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has indicated that he would sign the bill.
Illinois would be the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage, according to Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization.FULL STORY
The Illinois Senate will vote Thursday – Valentine's Day – on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.
Because Democrats have supermajority control of the General Assembly, the measure is expected to be approved. After the Senate vote, the measure would be considered by the House.
Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has indicated he would sign the bill.FULL STORY
We're going to have to wait a bit longer to see whether the Boy Scouts will drop their across-the-board ban on openly gay members.
The Boy Scouts of America on Wednesday delayed its vote on a proposal to let local troops decide whether to allow openly gay members and leaders.
The organization, which had been expected to vote Wednesday, said it needs more time to get input from its members. The vote will now be held in May.
"After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy," the group said Wednesday morning.
"To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns."
Same-sex spouses of U.S. service members could soon be granted some benefits that they had been denied until now.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to announce this week that service members' same-sex spouses will receive some of those benefits, according to an Obama administration official.
The Pentagon has been reviewing what benefits it could extend without violating the Defense of Marriage Act. Gay rights groups have been calling for the change. Among the benefits gay rights groups say can be legally extended are housing on military bases, military ID cards to access on-base activities and programs, access to commissaries and the consideration of a same-sex spouse and family in duty assignments.FULL STORY
A dog whose rejection by his owner caused an Internet uproar has been adopted into a new, and presumably more tolerant, home.
The male pit bull mix, whose name no one seems to know, was left at the Madison County, Tennessee, Rabies Control animal shelter, CNN affiliate WBBJ reported.
According to the irreverent website Gawker, Facebook users had a hissy fit Wednesday when they found out the dog's owner got rid of the animal after he (the dog, not the owner) humped another male dog.
"His owner threw him away (because) he refuses to have a 'gay' dog!" a Facebook user named TN Euthanasia wrote.
The post went semi-viral, with 861 likes, 1,869 comments and 5,048 shares. After Gawker told the rest of the digital world about it, noting that the dog was in imminent danger of being put down, the shelter was swamped with calls offering to adopt the uncloseted canine.
By Thursday morning, shelter workers confirmed to WBBJ that the amorous animal had been adopted by a person associated with a rescue/shelter group.
What would you name this dog if you adopted him? Share your ideas in the comments below.
The Boy Scouts of America is considering changing its longstanding policy against allowing openly gay members, according to a release from the organization.
The organization, which has 2.7 million members, is "potentially discussing" doing away with its policy after months of nationwide protest, including hundreds of angry Eagle scouts renouncing their hard-earned awards and mailing back their red-white-and-blue medals.
Many parents of Scouts across America found the national policy excluding gays confusing - and at odds with basic scouting ideals.
In the Scouts' release Monday, the group indicated that decisions on gay membership would be made at the local level. Each troop's charter organization would be able to decide "consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs."FULL STORY
California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill banning therapy aimed at turning gay kids straight, saying such efforts "will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery."
"This bill bans non-scientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide," Brown tweeted.
The California Senate passed the bill in May. It will kick in on January 1.
The bill prohibits efforts to change the sexual orientation of patients under age 18.
Earning the right to be called an Eagle Scout ranks among life's most cherished achievements for countless men. But now, more than 100 Eagles have renounced their precious red, white and blue medals to protest the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay and lesbian members.
"With sadness for the loss of the good things – I respectfully return my badge and ask that the BSA consider the opinions of the more than 10,000 other Eagle Scouts who have now done the same," wrote Ray Myers on a Tumblr site called Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges.
Protesters have posted letters and photos of their Eagle badges and medals that they've sent to Robert Mazzuca, chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America.
The Boy Scout national headquarters said it doesn't have an exact count of medals returned recently. "But we have received a few," wrote BSA spokesman Deron Smith in an e-mail to CNN. "Although we are disappointed to learn of anyone who feels compelled to return his Eagle rank, we respect their right to express an opinion. While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand and appreciate that not everyone will agree with any one position or policy."
Myers' figure of 10,000 Eagle Scouts who've sent letters of protest can't be confirmed, but Smith said the number is closer to that reported by the site – 105 as of Friday.