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. james

    the reaction to this is just great. Gay marriage has been legal in Canada for a decade and, as a straight man, my life hasn't changed at all. As a matter of fact the only people this ruling will actually affect are the couples who can now get married. Welcome to the 21st century.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      And Canada hasn't been destroyed yet? (sarcasm)

      June 26, 2013 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Well said.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Aaron K.

    Maybe there is still hope for this country!

    Future generations are going to read about today's decisions in their history textbooks wondering what the hell took us so long, just like my generation did with the civil rights movement for blacks.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Irish

    In life, there are only two things to worry about—
    Either you are well or you are sick.
    If you are well, there is nothing to worry about,

    But if you are sick, there are only two things to worry about—
    Either you will get well or you will die.
    If you get well, there is nothing to worry about,

    But if you die, there are only two things to worry about—
    Either you will go to heaven or hell.
    If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about.

    And if you go to hell, you’ll be so busy shaking hands with all your friends
    You won’t have time to worry!

    June 26, 2013 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lord Toronaga

    Just wait till the tax side effects come into play..... It will devastate the IRS.... This is awesome for the conservative right and people with money... Make declaring your gender and race a personal decision also...go LGBT !!! I can't wait to cash in on that one !!!

    June 26, 2013 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Ohioan

      And what tax side effects would those be? My god, you people posting your nonsensical statements is just pathetic.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lord Toronaga

      Ohioan. Why would I discuss this with someone with limited intellect. It's clearly a tax issue...I can be bent into many different forms. I'm so for this !!! Thanks for the new source of unregulated wealth transfer.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pete

    C doesn't hate anybody he or she just hopes somebody burns in hell for eternity.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. Den

    why CNN is no writing about Obama's $100 mil vacation in Africa? Is gay rights ruling much more important?

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

      That is all you think about. The hatred you have for America makes me wonder why are you still here.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • C

      Actually, yes, it is. Unless you are a Fox viewer. He is not there "on vacation" and the cost is almost entirely for security, which is afforded to any President. There is a story on CNN's front page if you'd care to try to educate yourself about the purpose of the trip Bush is there right now, and also get's Secret Service protection at taxpayer expense. Are you whining about that too?

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

      In a word, yes.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DMC

    With liberty and justice for *all*.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  8. cyman

    Great now they can suffer like the rest of us.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Straight

    Liberace probably got a hard-on when he heard the news today.

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

      Since Liberace is dead, I doubt that happened. What's wrong, couldn't think of a living gay person to use in your witless comment?

      June 26, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bannokburn

    There is no reason other than religious reasons not to allow this, and since this country has become more liberal there is no moral ground to stand on, but liberals better look back in history and realize something... Liberalism is the great DESTROYER of all civiliazations. Remeber, progress brings us closer to the end. Need a historical reference, look to the Roman Empire. They were all about LGBT lifestyles at the end and contrary to what you liberals want to believe, they didn't start out that way. How well did it work out for them? Who will the Barbarians be at our gates? Islam? China? Both are simply waiting and watching for us to degrade to point that simply the threat of invasion will cause you liberals to pay tribute for NOT destroying us. Oh wait. The Romans did that too. Hmmm

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

      The Roman Empire? The fall of the Roman Empire happen under religious conservative Christians control. Blows your foolish theory out of the water.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      The notion that the Roman Empire fell because of its "moral degradation" was invented by historians of the Victorian Era and unsupported by fact.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      The Roman Empire lasted a very long time worshiping their pagan gods, but once they converted to Christianity it was gone in about 200 years. I guess the Roman gods are stronger than the Christian one.

      June 26, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. n222s

    This is neither a post for, or against, gay marriage. Regardless of one's views the Fed and states have plenty of laws that impose a moral code upon the people. Few of us are against animal cruelty laws. What is the basis for those but morality? When people speak of fairness in the implementation of taxes, what is fairness in this case but a defined morality? The moronic amongst you will claim that I am against cruelty laws or a progressive tax system. That is not the case. Lets just stop pretending that the government does not make moral judgements in its laws. And stop pretending that you don't make moral judgements and the passage of such laws. For example, I believe it IS immoral to be cruel to animals. And I do think the rich should pay more than the poor in taxes from a moral standpoint.

    Don't be a hypocrite and pretend that the morality of others shouldn't be advocated as well. As a society we can determine who wins. But we ALL advocate SOME sort of moral code.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. DirtyHeat

    Oh thank God, how has this country been able to survive the past 200+ years without gay marriage legalized?!? Can we please move on now?

    June 26, 2013 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. NJ-American

    Don't be upset – this is a great day for unemployed degenerate mindless socialists with two fathers

    June 26, 2013 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. MS

    I don't hate gays but I prefer the bible definition. 🙂

    June 26, 2013 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • bczu=

      You mean where it says a man can have as many wives as he wants? My favorite part is where it says we can beat our wives, because they are our property.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • MS

      LOL!!!! @ bczu=. What bible is that? 🙂

      June 26, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      MS that would be all of them.

      June 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. George

    What is so equal about this ruling? So I lose my freedom and have my Christian faith and belief come under assault just to placate some overzealous minority who think they've been wronged and where I have to be forced to live with an idea that is totally against what I believe in? Where is the freedom and equality in that?

    June 26, 2013 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • I Am God

      Get lost George. Your religion isn't being assaulted. The only people being assaulted were gays when the religious extremists in the government enacted DOMA in the first place.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • DaveinFlorida

      Nobody has taken away your rights. You still have the right to believe in your fairy tales. You still have the right to live your life based on the hateful writing in the bible. The world has moved on. Your kind will wither away and be forgotten soon.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • bczu

      Why should others live their life following your beliefs? If you dont like gay marriage, dont do it. Its that simple. The same with contraception and abortion. If you dont agree with it, dont do it. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. You dont get to push your beliefs onto everyone else.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      How do you lose your rights? Why do others have to believe the same things as you do? You can think and believe who/what you want and marry who you want and now gay people can to the same thing. It is not for you to Judge. God will do that on Judgement day if that is what you believe.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Cogsboy

      Say it with me... "Seperation of Church and State".... repeat then rinse until you come to that reality of how our government is supposed to function.

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

      George: Please tell us how your values and beliefs are being challenged and ignored? The fact that gay people have equal rights now has absolutely nothing to do with your religion. You are still free to practice it; the difference now is that you cannot force your beliefs and customs on others with regard to marriage equality.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      What freedom have you lost, Georgie?

      June 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
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