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 (1,141 Responses)
  1. DMC

    With liberty and justice for *all*.

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

    Great now they can suffer like the rest of us.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. 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 |
  4. 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 |
  5. 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 |
  6. 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 |
  7. 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 |
  8. 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 |
  9. 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 |
  10. American Thinker

    This is great news for my clients. As a CPA and Tax Attorney I will advise my high net worth clients to marry their adult children to bypass any inheritance taxes. If two men can get married because they love each other then a father can marry his son too as long as they love each other.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • cc423

      You must be one of the stupidest CPA's ever. You seriously tell your people to enter into incestuous relationships to avoid paying taxes. Wow. Why would ANYONE pay you for such stupid advice.

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

      Your salty tears nourish me.

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

      Very ignorant post, you cannot marry your child! That is just as stupid as the "marry your dog" argument. Ad nominee at its best...

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

      Fortunately, CPA's just have to be good with numbers. Their opinion on social issues are irrelavent.

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

      Informal fallacy, take your crap else where.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sada

    You have no idea how other countries regard you. We Canadians regard you as being opposed to progress,, opposed to equality and firmly stuck in the 19th century. Or at least we did, I expect it will change after today.

    USA is gingerly stepping into the 21st century, and all I can say is, welcome. We got here ten years ago, that is when we legalized gay marriage. But better late than never.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. 123457

    A man with a man can not produce a child together same goes for a woman with a woman Hmmmm........ it takes a Man and a Woman to produce a child makes sense..... the only way a Gay couple can have a child is to adopt one (and I know their is alot of kids needing homes) I think it sad that a child living with a gay couple to think that is what marriage is suppose to be a man and a man or a woman and a woman they need to know really should be a Man and a Woman just saying....

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

      So infertile couples, or those who dont' plan on having kids aren't allowed to get married, right?

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

      I'm sterile and I can get married. Joke's on you! Delicious salty tears!

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

      So older women or people who are unable to have children should be banned from marrying? Should we require that married couples produce children within a certain number of years, or their marriage becomes void? Sorry, but the point of marriage is not solely to produce offspring, it's about making a commitment to the person you love.

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

      As if our gay brothers and sisters adopt children, isolate them from the straight world and force feed gay marriage. Really?

      June 26, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kns

    AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME interpretation of the law, loony

    June 26, 2013 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. tadashidavis

    Religious folks worry not! That's the beauty of the USA, you do not have to like gay marriage if you don't want to. However you do not have the right to deny ones civil rights based on YOUR beliefs! Continue to dislike to your hearts content, the fact remains gay marriage rights are to stay! To deny ones rights to marry is just as stupid and blatant as it was illegal to marry outside your race in Ca, which was not that long ago.

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

      You got it, but it will come with a price tag, because this kind of behavior always does.

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

      Okay, David, I'm calling you out. What "price tag" are you talking about?

      June 26, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • craig

      I am disappointed with the decision.But to be honest , Gay marriage, normal marriage between a man and a woman, when it comes down to it , at the end of our lives , the only real decision that will count is where we will spend eternity. It is everyone's personal choice where we will spend eternity. We can decide to accept Jesus, or we can deny him. All this other stuff means nothing compared to that decision.Choose Jesus, that is what I pray.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • tadashidavis


      "Price to pay"? You mean the "price" of freedom for a citizen to marry the person they love right? You mean freedom for US citizens to have the SAME rights across the board? Lastly you mean the freedom from religion right? We have paid that price long ago...remember that event in history when America can into existence? Well, payment started there...

      June 26, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ohioan

      There is another option, Craig. That is, to accept that fairy tales of all-powerful sky beings and afterlives with clouds and angels are children's stories. Better to live rational, intelligent lives and make decisions based on logic.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DaveinFlorida

    Stop whining you pathetic human being.

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