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'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 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 (1,107 Responses)
  1. Jason Z

    Please make the right decision Supreme Court justices. About progress, not continued discrimination and 2nd class citizenship...

    June 26, 2013 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • No More

      Your wish was just granted, dear Jason! But the Republicans continue with their tirade against minorities such as Gays and Lesbians trying to fight only for their Equal rights. That's truly sad to see this political group do that in this day and age. But now all of America knows what they truly stand for and will vote them OUT in the next election, posthaste! There's no room anymore for hate and prejudice in this country. Vote OUT the haters!

      June 27, 2013 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. us_1776

    SCOTUS just struck down DOMA !!!


    June 26, 2013 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. scott

    mazel tov to my gay friends

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

    Rupert Forward

    June 26, 2013 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. Don W

    Is this the Roberts Court or the anti-civil rights court? Can a distinction be made?

    June 26, 2013 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • DMC

      Freedom and Civil Right for ALL! Let ALL Americans be treated the same!!!

      This is a glorious day!!!

      June 26, 2013 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jeb

    If your marriage is "redefined" in any way by gay people being able to get married, you have serious problems in your marriage that will not be fixed by denying others of their fundamental rights.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. John

    Marriage is between a man a a woman..

    June 26, 2013 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Hey D-bag!

      This doesn't effect your right to marry a woman.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      since marriage calls for a state license in order to be legal, marriage is whatever the state says it is.

      choke on it

      June 26, 2013 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • concreteangel14

      or a man and a man or a women and a women. 🙂

      June 26, 2013 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • yogi

      And we see how successful they are.

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

      Unless you have the copyright to marriage, the patent on marriage, or the trademark on marriage, you do not get to say when the marriage can be used in a legal context.

      It really IS just that simple.

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


      I'm sorry you feel that way. However, you must build a bridge...and get over it.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • DWLGBT and his dog, cow, chickens, etc.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jim

    I love LGBT people!

    June 26, 2013 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. John

    marriage is between a man and a woman.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • MaryM

      Not anymore

      June 26, 2013 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Orchid Nox

      You wish!

      June 26, 2013 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • kns

      SCOTUS Rules. America Rules. Great day for everyone except narrow-minded people

      June 26, 2013 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Obviously, its not.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • ShawnDH

      Guess what...your personal views do no dictate how everybody else has to live. That's called FREEDOM. Look it up. You might learn something.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • CB

      Clearly you are now officially wrong.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • MisterPL

      That depends on what church you go to.

      While I agree that "marriage" is a religious concept, religion varies as do theie respective definitions of marriage.

      That said, I'd prefer that the state and church be separate so that the church can continue to dictate what "marriage" means within its doctrines and that the government can grant the same rights to all legal civil unions regardless of gender.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Jackson

      Your "church" does not own the copyright, the patent, or the trademark on marriage. Therefore, it does not get a legal say in how the word gets to be used. Also, marriage exists in many other religions as well. So, why are you attempt to claim ownership of the word for your church and your church only?

      June 26, 2013 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • SBWill

      I totally agree with you. Marriage is a religious practice and therefore doma should have never denied "civil unions" the same rights that hetro "civil unions" had in the first place. It is right we all should be equal under the law, I simply disagree with the verbage being used due to the heavy implications it places on reglious groups. I feel if the word marriage was replaced with civil unions then religious communities would be more apt to accept the idea rather than infringing on their religious doctrine

      June 26, 2013 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      No reason to deny them "Married" tax status when they file and to be able to take either persons SSI if one dies. very smart move leaving the "marriage" decision to the states!

      June 26, 2013 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • jason1985jobs

      No thats what the BIBLE says. But the BIBLE didnt invent marrage. Marriage was before the bible. Now there is no rule BEFORE the bible that says its man and woman. That whole man and women thing was a rule from god. But GOD is not real just like Santa. And also Religion must be seperate from state, etc. Im glad for them. Funny thing is most of them take it more seriously then the straight people.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Maybe in your delusional Bible land. Not here in the free land!

      June 26, 2013 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • sbp

      According to YOUR religion. The Government is not bound by inflexible dogma. They can define it and redefine it as they see fit.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • newsrell

      Sorry, the SCOTUS sided with pro-gay, the society sides with pro-gay, you lost on every fronts and are among the dinosaur minority that will disappear with time. Good luck in other endeavors of your life....

      June 26, 2013 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • WV Gleeman

      That's called an opinion now John.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul_Deemer

      Not anymore buddy. ha! Sorry! 🙂

      June 26, 2013 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • jeff1951

      @John That's your opinion but I have the law on my side.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff s

      Actually Marriage is what you make it.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • BT

      Amen! At leat in the eyes of one much mightier than the Supreme Court. Which is the ultimate ruling.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. One L

    Kudos to the SCOTUS!!

    June 26, 2013 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. Adam

    It should remain as one man and one woman joined in marriage and it should have all the benefits that come with it. Stop setting up my kids for failure! I do not want my young Jane to grow up thinking marriage is anything but so . . .

    June 26, 2013 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      so thats whay gays cant married? you dont want to explain to your kid how the world works? that people are not all the same? there's freedom FROM religion, not OF religion

      June 26, 2013 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Tara

      Stop setting your kids up for failure? What does that even mean in this context?

      June 26, 2013 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Your young Jane may grow up and want to mary Julie, would you not want her to have equal rights?

      June 26, 2013 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Robbin

      If anyone sets up your kids for failure it would solely fall on the shoulders of those RAISING THEM! Don't blame others for YOUR failures!

      June 26, 2013 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Russell

      Move to Canada ... oh wait, they already have gay marriage. I guess you can move to the middle east 🙂

      June 26, 2013 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Jessica Hall

      Then consider moving elsewhere. Your close-mindedness isn't welcome here anymore. This country was built on LIBERTY.

      In case you forgot what that means!:

      lib·er·ty –
      The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      "Setting your kids up for failure" – that's a new one I haven't heard before. Pretty funny.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew T

      "Stop setting up my kids for failure!" You're the one setting up your kids for failure. What would you do if one of your children came out? Disown them I bet, and then blame gay people instead of YOURSELF. Maybe you are the one who is closeted.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Frink

      Then stop teaching them to 'worship' your sadistic, needy, misogynistic, murderous and man made god.

      /Actually if they have your genes then your kids dont stand a chance.

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

      So you are saying that you do not plan to teach and guide your children to adult hood? You are going to let the world around them tell them what kind of person they should be?

      As a parent you should be ashamed of yourself. You need to embrace your responsible and take ownership of the education of your children.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. MaryM

    Thank you Supreme Court

    June 26, 2013 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. sassysticks53

    Civil Rights lost yesterday, but won today!

    June 26, 2013 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff s

      Huh? They won yesterday as well. The SCOTUS just ruled that we couldn't use metrics from 1972 to determine civil rights law in 2013, but they said that preventing racism from being used to control voting was still important.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |


    June 26, 2013 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. kns

    thank you america – thank you thank you thank you. You rock.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
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