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. Mark

    Huckabee said "5 people in robes said they are bigger than the voters of CA and Congress combined.And bigger than God.May He forgive us all"...who happen to be the Supreme Court, in a country that follows the Rule of Law not the Rule of Mike.

    June 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      He's from Arkansas, you can't expect much from that state or any southern state (the courageous Texas Sen. Davis notwithstanding). I know, I'm currently being forced to live in Louisiana; this place is little more than a redneck infested swamp. Arkansas is just a few miles north. (And this job was supposed to be a "promotion." I had to leave AZ for this hole! Yes, AZ is a red state, but they did legalize medical marijuana; when will that happen in the land of buy-bull thumpers?)

      Anyway, don't expect much in the way of even quasi-intelligent discourse from anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line. Some places down here still have segregated proms! Gross!

      June 26, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. David

    @ CW. It affects all of us you M0R0N!

    June 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nick

    Big deal. Go marry a cat if you want. Why marital status should trigger any Federal benefits in the first place is the question. Very disappointed in the Prop 8 decision – the voters had a referendum and that should be allowed to govern – isn't that what democracy is about? If we take away the rights of voters to self-determine the laws then who is really in charge?

    June 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      The whole point of the Constitution is to protect the rights of the minority from the majority. They should have never been allowed to vote on what rights other people can have in the first place.

      June 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Felines

    Playing devil's advocate on this: So where does it stop? Who's to say where a "union" is finalized? What's to stop me from marrying my cat – who is my reincarnated wife? So can I take a $500K Life Insurance policy on my "wife"?

    This is all about money people. It's as simple as that.

    That's all they really care about. It's not the piece of paper that says they are "married".

    June 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      'What's to stop me from marrying my cat '

      the fact that its not a human being and cannot sign contracts?

      June 26, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Get Realist

    The religious zealots will stomp their feet and scream about the country's "moral decay", but the rest of the world will keep moving ahead without them....

    June 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Adam

    America went downhill real fast! Time to get back up. We need to stand up for what's right and today's decision was a step in the wrong direction!

    June 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sly

    Next thing you know they'll make inter-racial marriage legal. Wow. What is this country coming to?

    June 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • C

      And women will be voting and working outside the home and joining the military.

      It's the end of the world.....:-)

      June 26, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Adam

    America went downhill real fast! Time to get back up. We need to stand up for what's right and today's decision was a step in the wrong direction!!

    June 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • AverageJoe76

      Go git 'cher gun boy!! Let's take America back with overwhelming ignorance!!!

      June 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • BJ

      To YOU, a step in the "right" direction is imposing your religion doctrine onto a nation of 300 million people and turn our government into a Christian Theocracy. The "wrong" direction is apparently Americans fighting for equality and progress.

      The rest of America is finally waking about from the Religious Right's nonsense.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AverageJoe76

    Finally..... people are growing up. Now if we could get the rich to stop being so darn greedy that its destructive to the masses......

    (sigh) I know, I know..... 'good luck with that'

    June 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Adam

    Marriage is between one man and one woman.

    June 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • AverageJoe76

      50% of us believe it's between one man and two women.....

      June 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      Not anymore, dude. Deal with it.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      since it is the state that license marriage, adam, marriage is whatever the state says it is.

      deal with it
      eat your shotgun and go grovel in front of jeebus

      June 26, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Are you asking me to commit suicide? You are a gay ninja!

      June 26, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Nadia

    This is the beginning of the end of the American Empire. Our principles are Christian, and this has made us great. We are undermining our Christian values and will lose our source of power.

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

      Yes, Ms. manifest destiny, go tell that to the Native Americans we "good Christians" slaughtered, forcibly moved, gave smallpox-infested blankets to kill them off via disease for which we knew they had no immunity, etc., all in the name of "god." And slaves built the country's capital, courtesy of their good "Christian" overseer-masters.

      PS – the founding fathers were largely "deists," and philosophical followers of the Enlightenment. Read a book. Christianity never made this country anything except a homogenous, resource-heavy, isolationist bully.

      And we're -finally- shedding the shackles of such backward-thinking stupidity. And you will have to deal w/it, or join the good Rev. Fred Phelps and clan – I'm sure he'll open his compound to you.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      'Our principles are Christian, and this has made us great. We are undermining our Christian values and will lose our source of power'

      So when did this happen then? during slavery? jim crow? yay for being made great with christian values.

      June 26, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Adam

    Marriage is between one man and one woman. Forever.

    June 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • AverageJoe76

      Then you should be hopping mad about the 50% divorce rate...

      June 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • C

      Perhaps you should look into buying property in Iran?

      June 26, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bo

      Not anymore, bigot.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      Stop being gay!

      June 26, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Colin

    I have a great idea. Let's NOT base 21st Century USA social policies on the superst.itions of Greco Roman Jews and pre Dark Ages Christian theologians.

    June 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      Great idea, I'm with you. It's catching, albeit slowly . . .

      June 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Adam

    Marriage is between one man and one woman until that day comes.

    June 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Straight


    June 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
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