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. Andy

    You better hope when that day does come, He forgives you for being intolerant. That's one of the greatest sins of all.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Straight


    June 26, 2013 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • OwMySkull

      Allow me to introduce you to a Russian rocket.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. joan

    equality under the law has NOTHING to do with what you consider moral or immoral. This is the basis of our country – all men are created equal....

    June 26, 2013 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. jayhawk

    The Supreme Court has it all wrong..Roberts said because the person that argued for Prop8 was not a lawyer, than the argument was not valid. Any one should be able to argue a case before the court. If the person that started a case and could not find a lawyer that would argue than they should be able to argue their own case.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. Loyalright

    It's over for normal people.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      What is over?

      June 26, 2013 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • WV Gleeman

      It's not over. Just take a deep breath and head over to Chick Fil A and you will feel better.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      It's over for bigots. If you want to equate that with normalcy, have at it.

      jeebus is waiting on you. what are you doing down here in this immoral world?

      June 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. PoorUs

    I'm tired of people saying conservatives are hateful and bigots. (some surely are, but that is way to much of a generalization) I am conservative, I happen to be against gay marriage, and I also happen to have more gay friends than I could probably count. They are aware of my stance on the subject. I dont approve of their lifestyle, as I believe it is, on some level, a choice. I could be wrong, and that is why I dont condemn them, or preach to them, etc...They are good people. We have a blast together. I simply dont believe that marriage should be between anything other than a man and a woman...So, how am I a bigot? Because I have a conviction that doesn't line up with yours? That word gets tossed around way too much. Just because you have seen an extreme, to one side or another, doesn't mean that everybody on that side is to the extreme.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Brando

      Well, great. You're against gay marriage. Don't get gay married then. Your stance on the subject should have NO bearing on anyone else's right to chose who they commit themselves to.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Some Of My Best Friends Are!

      I feel sorry for your gay friends having you in their life

      June 26, 2013 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • WV Gleeman

      I think you can't count very high.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • PoorUs

      Well I can assure you, they are quite happy to have me in their life, and vice versa. You love to assume there is hate, animosity, distrust, or whatever else, just because we have different opinions. Of my friends who are gay, that we have discussed the issue, none of them took offense to my opinion. They understood where it is coming from, and they disagree. But there is no hate. No uncomfortable silence. My point of the post is, just as not all people who are against gay marriage are mean, vile people, so are gay people who have so much un-based hatred for anybody who disagrees with them. Do you realize you can disagree in a loving and respectful way?

      And Brando, in this country, we vote (and elect,etc) on various aspects of society. The purpose of this is obviously, bc people differ in opinions. My belief is my belief, and I stand by it. Your belief is yours, and you stand by it. And you won the day! thats how it works, and I'm okay with that. I disagree with the ruling, but I accept that is the will of the majority (presumably). Again, its not being hateful, and thats the key here.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Thephotog

      Translation: I don't have anything against this group. I just don't think they should have the same rights that I enjoy.

      There were a lot of people out there that had the same opinion during the civil rights movement.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • PoorUs

      Okay, maybe this will clarify my stance a little better. I, from a biblical standpoint, believe marriage is between a man and a woman. This is separate from govt benefits. How about calling it a civil union, and establish a set of similar, or exactly the same, benefits for those in a civil union? That doesn't un-dignify anything. It's like saying "I think Honda makes the best car" and someone else saying "I think Chevy makes the best car". They are equally a car, they get you from A to B. But we dont agree which one is best. And you are welcome to buy whichever makes your little heart happy. But they are different cars, nonetheless.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brando

    Soooooo....what about Amendment One in North Carolina???

    June 26, 2013 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. maestra730

    A sad, shameful day for America.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. n222s

    Two questions. First; why is any government involved with marriage in the first place? Originally, I suppose, to protect the women and children from men up and leaving, inheritance, etc. Which was holding men to a moral standard that benefited society when men were the primary breadwinners. Should the government be involved in today's world?

    Second question; why is bigamy/multiple partner marriage outlawed? Isn't the government making a moral decision in this area as well?

    I am not adovcating gay marriage or polyamorous marriages or anything of the sort. I'm simply trying to change the perspective that assumes, automatically, that the government NEEDS to be involved. If it is not involved, I can view marriage as I see fit and you can see it as you do and neither one of us needs to force his or her views on the other person.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      Actually the government has a vested interest in marriage. It encourages a more stable home life and gives incentives to people to provide for their families. This is one of the requirements bascially to make the country function, which is what government needs. At the end of the day that is what the government is in the business of doing, making sure society operates as best as it can.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • raistlino8

      Well marriage is, currently, a legal contract between two consenting adults who wish to share their lives together and have the benefits of said contracts.

      If we were to get government out of marriages overall, then the spousal benefits would go as well. Inheritance taxes would apply to ALL people. Loved ones could not be guaranteed any rights at all, hospital visits, belongings, property, etc.

      As to polygamous marriages, I really don't care. As long as people are entering in to them willingly, it's their business, not mine.

      Now if you want to talk about religious implications you would be referring to weddings. Weddings are religious ceremonies that celebrate the marriage contract, but they are not needed for a legally binding marriage contract.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PDubs

    Morality is not dependent upon religion, nor is religion a prerequisite for leading a 'moral' lifestyle. Not everyone subscribes to your idea of some invisible, omnipotent, but ever absent father figure.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. sparky

    sounds like fun!

    June 26, 2013 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. lazyboyPA

    So long, sucker!

    June 26, 2013 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bryan

    THANK YOU! I am so happy. And all you haters, it's sad you care so much about something that doesn't affect you. BUT I LOVE that you are SO ANGRY, welcome to what we've experienced for years!!!!

    June 26, 2013 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. Steve in CT

    Think of the logic when a Bible Thumper says after you die, you will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. Won't you get bored with either after the first thousand years or so? When the concept of heaven and hell was created, your life was so miserable, you were promised that if you do what the church says, you would be rewarded after death. The greatest con ever

    June 26, 2013 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  15. John H

    Gay people get rights and abortion ban fails to pass in Texas. A bad day to be a typical conservative hateful wingnut.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • NJ-American

      But it is a great day to be a degenerate, America hating socialist drone with two fathers. This is not a sign of progress but a sign of the unraveling of the US as a great nation.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • John H

      @NJ-American – this is the surest sign of progress and civilization. A small victory over our tribal, selfish, conservative, primitive instincts to deny people who are not like us any rights.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
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