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:

[tweet https://twitter.com/JeffreyToobin/status/277152673369821185%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/HRC/status/277149744814501888%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/ACLU/status/277148416499392512%5D

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson:

[tweet https://twitter.com/GovGaryJohnson/status/277149561624080384%5D

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.:

[tweet https://twitter.com/SenGillibrand/status/277156512634380288%5D

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

[tweet https://twitter.com/GavinNewsom/status/277144818147262464%5D

Justin Mikita, co-founder of TieTheKnot.org, which advocates "for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans":

[tweet https://twitter.com/JustinMikita/status/277150108347404288%5D

Jessie Tyler Ferguson, another TieTheKnot.org co-founder and Mikita's finance:

[tweet https://twitter.com/jessetyler/status/277162169475416064%5D

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

[tweet https://twitter.com/NancyPelosi/status/277164317714034688%5D

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Filed under: Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
soundoff (534 Responses)
  1. Michael Pl

    jackson, religion has no place? our country was founded on and by religious principles. There is a big difference between separation of church and state and The Church and State. take a history class

    December 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jackson

    LOL, morals.....funny that so many of your leadership that preach family values are out having affairs on their spouses. Yet, conservatives never want to talk about their OWN immorality, only the immorality of other people. These people cheat on their spouses, then turn around and say marriage equality makes a mockery out of marriage. No, it doesn't. Cheating on your spouse makes a mockery of marriage. But, since conservatives cheat, they won't talk about that, will they?

    December 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Truth Hurts

    Why don't you try it with me? I'll tell you what will happen. I live in Illinois, and we haven't had laws against what I do in the privacy of my boudour for fifty years now, so you'll get nowhere with the police. If you want to do a citizen's arrest, then I'll shoot you in face and claim self-defense. So, you'll be deceased, and I can go on having relations with other males.

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


    December 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ChristopherM

    No Michael, our country was founded on people being able to practice their religion without interferance from the government, not on being ruled by a religion. Get your history straight.

    December 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Josh

    If we cant marry, adopt kids, have the same insurance rights....then we should STOP paying income taxes (our work ethic and money is in vain), STOP paying any tax that has to do with education (we cant adopt), STOP paying any tax to better our nation (cant marry in most states or be recognized), NOT be required to pay any tax for those FAMILIES on welfars, Section 8, etc (since we cant have any) and NONE of our money should be alocated to ANY specail insurance benefits or assistance programs (since we can not have the same rights). Furthermore, if you dont like gay people, then you should be required by law to register. Therefore, when you visit the hospital (as many of your doctors and nurses ARE gay) they can go on and save other people if no "normal" doctor is avail to help you. First Responders and Firefighters and Policemen that are gay should not be required to help you either. Gays have one of the highest spending powers, please keep in mind. It could send this country over the edge. Final words to those of you that find us deviant, "un-normal", sinners, etc.....hiding behind your own fear and lashing out towards others causes YOU to be the biggest hypocrites, the most judgemental, the most fearful and leaderless people. You are NOT the judge, so stop judging and segregating. Correct me if I am wrong, but this "dude" named Jesus said not to do any of the above. How religious are you now? And lastly, please tell me in which organization seduces the most young boys?

    December 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      Right on....I completely agree.

      December 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©


      December 7, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Michael Pl

    Christopher, Can you grasp the difference between separation of church and state, and separation of The Church and State. Only one of those had anything to do with our founding father. and I promise, its not the one whose phras was coined in the 1930's (separation of church and state became a popular saying after a 1930 supreme court decision outlawing discrimination based on religion).

    December 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Greg

    What worries me is I've heard the gays try to recruit children. There should be a law where they can't teach school or be around kids.

    December 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      OMG. This made me laugh. Yeah, we recruit children. WHERE on earth do you live? BTW-dont send your kids to church. There is "real" proof of harm there.

      December 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • tb63

      What worries me Greg, is that you apparently believe everything you hear – no matter how ridiculous.

      December 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron from NY

      Stop trolling.

      December 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not Troll

      So Aaron from NY, someone who doesn't agree with you is a troll?

      December 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Not Troll: no, disagreement does occur. But Greg's argument is silly and decades old. If he reads or watches the news more than once a month he would not write his worries out like that... so it is reasonable to suspect he is a troll rather than someone who is genuinely worried.

      December 8, 2012 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
    • urouttolunch

      Why on earth would we want to "recruit" anybody, much less children? Being gay is not a Ponzi scheme.

      December 8, 2012 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Cogito

      In case you haven't heard, being gay and being a pedophile are completely separate and unrelated. Get a clue.

      December 8, 2012 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryB

      Greg, come clean and tell us you were being sarcastic. You can't possibly be that ill-informed.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DBCII

    This decision will be a landslide in support of the protection of gay marriage. Every liberal judge on in the court will vote to overturn bans on gay marriage. A true conservative, which is where most of the Republican nominated judges fall, would clearly see gay marriage as being protected under the 14th amendment. Unfortunately, neo-cons want small government except when it comes to God and war and would like to see and "activist" decision on this to allow the ban of gay marriage. The other thing to note is that, if I am not mistaken, the Obama administration is going to be defending DOMA and he miraculously changed his public opinion on gay marriage for this election, so I don't think they are going to do that much to defend DOMA in front of the court.

    December 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      You are indeed mistaken about the Obama Administration defending the DOMA.
      Shouldn't listen to Rush so much.

      December 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harry

      The Obama Administration has not defended DOMA in court since February 2011. At that time John Bonehead formed the group BLAG (Bi-Partisan Legal Advisory Group) and started spending tax dollars to continue defending DOMA in court. They are a major party in the PROP 8 case and they have their hands in many of the others challenging DOMA. So please double check your facts for accuracy. It wont be defended by Obama's team nor was it a ploy to garner more votes.

      December 8, 2012 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Josh

    segregating biggots like you should be put in prison. you serve this country, socially, nothing at all.

    December 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JJ

    Wow listen people, let gay people be miserable just like the rest of us married people, let them have the same rights. Plus are you paying their bills, better yet are you in their bedroom? Pay their rent if you want a say so. Other than that mind your business. And the only thing that is contagious is stupidity, that spreads worst then the HIV virus and that disease almost has a cure.

    December 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Paul X

    Why would anyone fear God? That's so stupid.

    December 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Paul X

    Hmmm...that's funny, since all the commercials on TV, ads in magazines, songs on the radio and daytime and nighttime soap opera are pushing straight couples lives all the time. But somehow that's not pushing heterosexual "lifestyles" on impressionable kids. Get a grip.

    I was raised by two straight parents, and conditioned to be straight for 25 years of my life...and, damn...I still turned out gay. And every other gay person will tell you the same thing. Being gay is something that is hard wired into people

    December 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. herebumps

    In 1984, two gay psychologists, themselves a couple, published a study of 156 supposedly stable gay couples, and found that none of them were monogamous.
    Gays don't want marriage equality. They want something very different from marriage.

    December 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • TC

      You didn't post a link to this peer reviewed study. Do you have one?

      December 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cogito

      Yes, because we all know that hetero couples are always completely monogamous...

      December 8, 2012 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
    • RK PHX

      Post a link, please. Or, you're lying.

      Are you a liar?

      December 9, 2012 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. Kay

    Michael...as has already been said repeatedly, our government is *not* a theocracy, nor is it supposed to be. And the laws of our country should *not* be "faith-based". Not be based on the popular religion. Because that actually *is* theocratic behavior.

    Keep in mind that I'm certainly not saying that people (including politicians) can't base their own decisions on their own personal faith. Just that a religious-based law, rather than a Constitutional law, is wrong. An example would be a decision against a gay marriage law based on Biblical interpretations of homosexuality. Or marriage. Churches get to decide who they will or won't perform marriage ceremonies for based on sexual orientation. The government doesn't.

    I know it's hard for a number of people of faith to believe, and we'd all heard the argument numerous time, but faith in a "higher power" simply is NOT required in order to know "right" from "wrong", to know "good" from "bad". Being able to distinguish is actually a matter of survival. Humans are a social animal. We need to function in a group to the best of our ability, not the worst.

    Gay marriage does *not* negatively impact that ability to function because it simply is *not* necessary for everyone to breed constantly...regardless of what some folks "think" the Bible is telling them.

    IMHO, gay marriage should be (and will be found to be) legal because it's an issue of civil rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. Indeed, while I acknowledge that you may be able to bring up non-faith-based arguments that I can't remember, I personally cannot recall *any* arguments against gay marriage that aren't faith-based. (Well, that or the thought of gays getting it on simply grosses some people out, to which I always say "then stop thinking about it.")

    December 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
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