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.com, 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:

[tweet https://twitter.com/GovMikeHuckabee/status/349912016305139713]

[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.

[tweet  https://twitter.com/jessetyler/status/349901581665320960]

[tweet https://twitter.com/ricky_martin/status/349900254566555651]

[tweet https://twitter.com/adammshankman/status/349894451222675456]

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.

[tweet https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/349894675253051393]

[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.

[tweet https://twitter.com/DWStweets/status/349892758124761089]

[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?

[tweet https://twitter.com/ladygaga/status/349309938897657857]

[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 CNN.com 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."

[tweet https://twitter.com/TieTheKnotOrg/status/349738809438646272]

It's no surprise that GLAAD wants marriage equality.

[tweet https://twitter.com/glaad/status/349870173882302465]

Or that the Family Research Council is backing traditional unions.

[tweet https://twitter.com/FRCdc/status/349866051422535681]

And this, from CNN legal eagle Jeffrey Toobin:

[tweet https://twitter.com/JeffreyToobin/status/349838762110484481%5D

[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 (1,124 Responses)
  1. Adam

    So what's next? Pedophiles get equal rights too?!!? They claim they were also born that way which is complete bull just like gay people making such a claim!

    June 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • LT

      WOW! What ignorance!

      June 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • RealBACONATOR2

      Pedophilia violates the rights of consent and security of the child involved, Same-sex-marriage violates no rights. How can you tell? When a couple down the street gets the same tax exemptions as you; there is no victim!!!

      June 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous

      Of course. Pedophiles should be allowed to marry any consenting adult they wish.

      June 26, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rikki

      Pedophiles already have more rights than gays do, as long as they're not convicted.

      June 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sly

    Wow ... next thing you know they'll let women and minorities vote in America.

    What is happening to our nation?

    June 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kyle

    Ok, opinions shouldn't have anything to do with this. Everyone should be able to be married to whoever they want. I also think everyone needs to really look at their opinions/beliefs and question why they believe them (about everything anyone ever taught you), nothing is absolute and the repetition/proliferation of one set of beliefs over a long period of time doesn't make it true.

    P.S. – If it's the 'marriage' term that everyone is trying to defend/keep pure, how about we just make another term that has the exact same benefits of marriage but with a different name.

    June 26, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Peter Wilson

    The court decisions are not a victory but a reminder of a sad state of modern affairs. The modern trend reinforces the singular material development that justifies human an entity of economic and subjective ambitious desires.

    Currently in the young generation, same sex is promoted alongside abortion. There is also an alarming rate of suicide in general. And at the same time, there are visible empty spaces in places where holistic development is encouraged, and especially missing are the children. If adoption is also successful, give it another twenty years to exceed child bearing age of existing couples, and the absence of children would be obviously evident in this town.

    The thinning process of the singular strips and overwhelms the objective development responsible for the stability of rational reasoning and social coherence. In the absence of valid reason in the metaphysical layer, the material abstract rises to dominate behaviour. It is in keeping with current trends of materialism where decisions are based not on valid principles or their objective outcomes, but on popular opinions of selfish desires. And these popular opinions represent the majority of the young vote.

    For example social institutions such as labour representation in universal suffrage, traditional family and communities, religion, and society have given way to individuals of economic units coming together in aggregates to indulge not in social activities but to fulfil their own selfish desires. The stability of social organisation weakens to collapse the economy. It is prompted by forceful measures to control the population, and you have lost all your freedom and privacy.

    Getting back to principles, I refer to pure principles as original causes. The quantification of pure principles always produces objective outcomes. And objective outcomes of pure principles cannot be subjective. It is the failure of the objective process that is invalid in the secondary layer and the pure principle is not at fault.

    And there the arbitrary imposition legalising same sex union along with subjective popular opinions can never become principles in the secondary layer. They have to be purified and transcend into being. For example, Love as pure principle is not pure in the secondary layer of selfish and ambitious desires.

    Love in the pure sense transcends the material into being (metaphysical and intuitive reasoning), and love in the secondary layer is embodied by an abstract entity of desire that cannot be purified in the objective outcome both in the physical and the metaphysical layer.

    So, your so-called victory is a short term celebration of selfish and ambitious desires but at the expense of a long term descend on humanity.

    I have received some nasty replies from advocates of same sex marriage, but I expected it from the secondary layer of subjective existence.

    June 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Coast To Coast

    There Is JOYOUS CELEBRATION Going On All Across the Country Today and For Many Years to Come!! Since God created ALL, including Gays and Lesbians with their orientation, we can proudly declare that it is time to forget prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, scorn, and falsehoods about God's people. Let us all learn to get along and instead Love One Another as Jesus said we should do!

    June 26, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. We Are Family

    Now truly all Gays and Lesbians across America can declare proudly: We Are Family!!

    June 26, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Uki

    How will having marriage equality truely impeed your daily life? It's not my job to talk to your kids and explain why someone loves the same gender. Maybe you just don't want to explain that you're a bigot.

    June 26, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Shey

    our Heavenly Father gives us all free will and its there will to be an abomination we can not judge only God can I'm upset because I do not wish for my kids and grand kids to think this is ok and the United States take away our rights by teaching them its ok to be with the same sex but its not ok to pray to our Heavenly Father this country is going starlight to hell because of our wicked leaders but as always good vs evil good always win and we as Christians will win

    June 26, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lesbrianna

    Great News! These old fools with sixteenth-century mentality about marriage needed to be taught a lesson and boy were they today by the SCOTUS! You can see that they're just fuming that one of their own went with the Liberal justices to make this happen. Well, when all is said and done one can say it could not have happened to a better group!

    June 26, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rascal Rabble

    mmmm...not surprising, another diabolical below the waist ruling issued by scotus...really should call themselves scrotum...

    June 26, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kosmo Kramer

    I got a better solution, ban marriage for everyone. Put 50% of the lawyers out of business. This ruling will now tie up courts for years, with all the g@ys getting divorced in the years forthcoming. Careful what you wish for people....

    June 26, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. k

    I think the hypocrisy in the gay community is hysterical. See, gay people are generally radically opposed to religion, and have even shown an unwillingness to accept the religious views of others, yet they have been 'fighting' for the 'right' to participate in a historically religious practice. Funny!

    June 26, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Proud Worshiping

      You are very wrong about that! There are far too many Christian religious Gays and Lesbians who regularly attend church in the thousands of churches there are in America for them to worship at. And you must remember the Gay Christian Bishops who pastor in major churches. So, don't come and tell lies about this because we know the actual truth about it that trounces your personal beliefs.

      June 27, 2013 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. cira

    I guess I sit here bewildered. Today is a great day for so many who have been persecuted.

    However, think about this.

    We have went through Women's Suffrage, Civil Rights and Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Rights.

    WHEN will Father's in America get their EQALITY in Child Custody???

    Anyone ready to Champion such deserved equality?

    June 27, 2013 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jamie

    What a wonderful group of contributers we have here today! The best of the worst. Sad state humanity has degenerated to. 1% Sincerity, 99% hate. Where is this Antichrist guy, isn't he supposed to show up soon? Seems to me that he's due here now! Oh, that's right, that's all just a myth, right?

    June 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    COMMENT #1085: Hey CNN, today is 27, June 2013. Is this all you got? What. You fire all your writers again? Or are you going to let these articles ferment another week? Just sayin.

    June 27, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
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