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. Luke MacInnis

    Haza America! she's still got it in her! I hope this ruling helps many folks live a more peaceful and happy life!

    June 26, 2013 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. JessicaH

    I know right?!...It's disgusting that it has taken this long to finally grant equality to LGBT people! Awesome day!

    June 26, 2013 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. Adam

    People were not born gay. It is a choice, and not to mention a sin,immoral. You can choose to change your behavior...

    June 26, 2013 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Get a clue.
      Being gay is not a choice. I am not gay, but I have gay friends & it was not his or her choice.
      Besides, as I stated, you have no problem letting child molesters & rapists get married.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • MagicPanties

      Then change YOUR behavior, and stop relying on fairy tales for your misguided morality.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Uhh dude, I was born gay. Few would choose a lifestyle that so difficult to fight for.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • David Gabriel

      It's 2013, you can stop believing in fairy tales anytime now.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Hooray for gay!

      Your statement is simply your opinion. Are you yourself gay? If the answer is no then how could you possibly have a clue? Does it make you uncomfortable to watch men hold hands? Sucks for you, time to grow up and enter modern times.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      'People were not born gay. It is a choice'

      when are you going to accpet that this is a load of bull? seriously, you actually think that people that face such opposition would choose to be gay in spite of it?

      June 26, 2013 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Realistic85

      The 1950's called. They were wondering when you were coming back.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      orientation is not a choice, but apparently your bigotry is.

      eat your sidearm, punk, jeebus is waiting

      June 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Billy

    This will be interesting. I wonder how many possible trillion's of dollars this will cost the people of the US? Think for a minute of the cost of legislation in changing Federal IRS code, Federal Survivor Benefits, Health benefits, unemployment benefits, retirement survivor benefits, domestic court laws will need to be changed! the paper work alone will probably cause a national shortage of paper! Another outcome of this might skyrocket domestic violence in that now guess what you get to pay alimony! Oh my, by the time this nonsense runs its course the gays can get a good taste of the reality of seeing how married people can be penalized by the system.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • cw

      You think it will cost TRILLIONS? Do you also believe a gallon of milk costs $1000?

      June 26, 2013 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      most laws use the term spouse already anyway so you really think its going to cost trillions to change things?

      June 26, 2013 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Boocat

      Glad you have a crystal ball and can predict the future....say, can you tell me what the winning NY lottery numbers will be?

      June 26, 2013 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. LogicalConclusion

    Cite your source please

    June 26, 2013 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. cP

    Needed to be done regardless of what you think of gay marriage. The Fed can't say that the states have the right to define marriage and then invalidate that marriage at the federal level.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Don

      So if "the Feds say that the states have the right to define marriage," then if another state's "one man, one woman" law reaches the SCOTUS and it gets upheld, what happens to Proposition 8 (assuming it's not removed by ballot proposition in the meantime)?

      June 26, 2013 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ryan

    I have no respect for the laws that govern the United States. God is my judge, not 9 corrupt political activists.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      'not 9 corrupt political activists.'

      translation.....we lost, but if we had won they would have been judges doing the right thing.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      then eat your sidearm and face your judge, punk

      June 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Garrett

    Another sad day for the states.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Rikki

      "another sad day for the states"

      ...whose backward laws still don't allow for same-sex marriage.

      Sorry Garrett – just finishing your statement for you. I assume that's where your thought process was leading.

      June 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fred

    We are all equal: congratulations. Back to reality: The middle class is decimated by corporate interests and everyone is being spied on by the US government! Wake up people! Wake up sleepers!

    June 26, 2013 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    If special interest groups would bide thier time in getting involved in repealing things like Affordable Healthcare, rather than thier own selfish petty agendas, to improve prosperity in this country. People supporting Prop8 don't even know who thier real enemies are. In fact I think they are thier OWN WORST ENEMY.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. Oh my

    Look at all the angry knuckle dragging bible thumpers, writhing in their own bigoted juices. It is truly a delicious victory made even sweeter by the tears of the hateful and the ignorant. Today is a good day.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      You do not followers of Christ well...God has given us a spirit of love, power and self control, not one of hate.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Followers of Christ do love, but that love extends to the humble, not the proud. Jesus didn't extend grace to the devil. Jesus truly did die for the sins of the world, but that payment only applies to those who believe and repent, not to those who believe and yet defy God. There is no such thing as gay christian. You either follow Christ, or you don't. Let these rebels have their day in the court of man, but God will have His day when He righteously judges all the world. This truly is a tragic day in America because it gives people an excuse to justify thier sins, much like the way abortion laws do.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  12. barf

    America just failed......

    June 26, 2013 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • sosueme do the wrong thing.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      America just got better.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  13. The Mentalist

    Granting unnatural activity to people is disgusting.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. antoniodelaossa

    Alleluia! Freedom and Equality prevail!

    June 26, 2013 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ted

    When 1 man rules on 300,000,000 people on any issue, is not democracy. Strip S.C. of such powers.

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

      'When 1 man rules on 300,000,000 people on any issue, is not democracy. Strip S.C. of such powers.'

      So where did this happen then? certainly not here.

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

      This country was never a Democracy – not in the strictest sense. The USA has always been a Republic, where we are governed by our elected representatives.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Huh?

      what are you talking about? what 1 man did that for which 300,000,000 people? weird stuff there.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
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