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. Straight


    June 26, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lord Yabu

    ......'m declaring myself a African-American Transgender she-male and getting all the benefits therein. After can't legislate who you are or FEEL. Thank you. Welcome to CHAOS ! Count me in. Where can I donate to the abortion clinics as well. I love that also.... Now I can slay my enemies before they are even born. THANK YOU !!!!

    June 26, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Your Liege Lord

      I order you to commit Seppuku immediately!!!

      June 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lord Yabu

      This will become the greatest tax dodge of all time.... not to mention the benefits of lower insurance rates for me. As a declared woman, I want the cheaper rate. And as an African American I want first place in the college line. Can't stop me.
      HATERS & BIGOTS beware. And by the way ... The ruling says SAME SEX marriage; NOT GAY MARRIAGE. Let that sink in a few moments.

      June 26, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. anthony

    so how is this a win for animals such as yourself?

    June 26, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lord Toronaga

      Business, Money transfers and Taxes. It says SAME SEX not GAY. Works for me. Time to exploit this monstrosity.

      June 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Congrats for Gays

    You people against gays why don't you leave? You aren't patriots to this country; you are just fools living in this country. Patriots fight for ALL beliefs not just your beliefs.

    June 26, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. duke

    The court did not say that gays are have a right to marriage. It said that if a state recognizes a marriage (traditional or not) the federal government must recognized that union and give it all the benefits provided by the federal government. So, if a state permits polygamy will the federal government be forced to recognize the union of one man and multiple women, or one woman and multiple men, or multiple men and women? Where does it end?

    June 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Why would you care if three people want to marry each other as long as everyone involved is o.k. with it? It would probably create some legal problems as far as inheritance and stuff goes, but it wouldn't really have an effect on you at all.

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

      'Where does it end?'

      Yeah, as soon as you allow 1 man and 1 women to marry you just let the cat out of the bag, where does it end?

      June 26, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chuck VonDerAhe

    BREAKING NEWS – The number of traditional marriages threatened by the DOMA ruling has spiked by an astounding zero percent. Stand by for more on this disturbing trend.

    June 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • rabbitcommarogerindyreader

      I kinda love the fact that Tony Perkins used the word "disturbed" in his ignorant comment on these rulings. Tony Perkins, disturbed?!?! You could knock me over with a feather.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      Exactly! What's the threat to the straight married couple in anytown, USA? How are they adversely affected by this? Are their health/inheritance/insurance/miscellaneous rights, privileges or benefits in any way diminished by any of this? Hmm, can't see it.

      June 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Adam

    I think it boils down to looking into your inner man and asking if your are living a lie? It would be such a pain to live your life knowing what your doing is wrong.

    June 26, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • It's Time

      Well, you know you are actually right, Adam, all of those so-called church-going Christians who divorce and have abortions but still consider themselves Christians ARE living a lie! It's time they fully Repented before God!

      June 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David

    Why is a 5-4 SCOTUS decision that liberals DISLIKE derided by CNN as handed down by a "deeply divided court" but a 5-4 decision liberlas LIKE is 'hailed as a victory...." by CNN headlines?

    June 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Drew

    No more room for hate and discrimination in the law! For the many self righteous Christians out there, the bible has a lot things in it telling us what we can and can't do, and I am pretty sure that none of you follows it 100%. For example, the Bible says a woman must have their hair covered and if not covered, must be cut short. You are quick to judge others before judging yourself. Blindly follow a 2,000 year old manuscript without asking yourself why does the bible say this is wrong. A priest once told me that we should question the Bible, for you truly can not understand the importance of the meaning of the scriptures without first asking and understanding why is it important in the first place and not just because of the threat of damnation. In the course of human events, views and opinions have changed, some good and some bad. What was once right thousands of years ago does not necessarily mean it is right today and vice versa. Recent history has proven this. Slavery was once widely accepted, denying women the right to vote was accepted, denying rights based on the color of a person's skin was right but now our views have changed. Perhaps even GOD has changed his views but we wouldn't know would we? And you can not claim that GOD can not change his mind, for who are you to say that GOD can not? Defending marriage needs to start inside the home of the one who is defending it. Protect what it means to be married, the undying love, two souls act as one, not the baby factory you want it to make. Go after the ones who make a mockery out of marriage, the abuse, the infidelity.

    June 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      You falsely paint it as a religious issue. In Portland's recent Gay Pride parade, about half of the participants were churches.... Mormon, catholic, baptist, Presbyterian.....

      I detect more bigotry toward religion among my fellow gays than I do bigotry directed at gays from religious folks.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • SOG1969

      Not real keen on bowing to a book written hundreds of years later, by people who were not there and are only offering an opinion, since there are no historical documents from the era and no other scholar in the region who wrote of events of the region, ever mention all these fantastic super natural feats performed by Jesus... think that would have interested some scholar in the region....and then the church picks and choses what rendition of the facts they wish to publish yet leave out and destroy many documents, shaping religion to their personal adaptation...

      June 26, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Burton Erney

    I find this whole topic disgusting.

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

      Then read something else, and take some Tums.

      June 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • In Actuality

      Hey Karen, it sure appears that ol' Burton is having bad flashbacks of the countless abortions and divorces the breeders are continuously engaging upon, huh!

      June 26, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Great!

    Great – the HomoSexuals get what they want – Haleaulouya!!!!! That's what America is about you know, making sure the Homosexuals are happy- nothing is of higher priority. Also, We struck down a law, that might make it a little harder, to slaughter 50 million more babies, over the next 40 years – like we did in the last- another great monument of American Achievement! I am bursting with pride – God Bless America!!

    June 26, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Luke

    This is a sad day. The day the majority of the supreme court sees a perversion as normal... Similar things happened in the great days before the fall of the Roman Empire, Greek Empire, Byzantine Empire and Babylonian Empire. I am just sad because this means Americans care more now about having sex and their perversions than they do about hard work and progress.
    I guess this Great Nation is approaching its conclusion. A dysfunctional society cannot remain a superpower.

    June 26, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SOG1969

    The SCOTUS ruling, then the Texas failure of their proposed anti-abortion law and today the UK stopped anti-Muslim extremist from the US from entering their country... The tide against the hate mongering extremist is finally turning...

    June 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Karen

    The bathroom is down the hall . . .

    June 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Denounced

    God does not exist. And if god does exist, it is a pathetic entity that brings death and suffering to millions, regardless of their faith. Either way, it is about time there was true equality. Being gay is not a choice, and the religions are finding this to be true more and more, thus the closing of these faith clinics that have tried to cure homosexuality. It is also common place in the animal kingdom, just sayin. Now let the flaming begin.

    June 26, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
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