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. Andrew T

    And which Church do you attend?

    June 26, 2013 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Anatoly

    I wonder in what direction this country is moving. A man faces up to 13 years in prison for writing anti-big-bank slogans that were left using washable children's chalk on a sidewalk outside of three San Diego.

    In addition to possibly spending 13 years in jail, Olson will also be held liable for fines of up to $13,000 over the anti-big-bank slogans that were left using washable children's chalk on a sidewalk outside of three San Diego, California branches of Bank of America, the massive conglomerate that received $45 billion in interest-free loans from the US government in 2008-2009 in a bid to keep it solvent after bad bets went south.
    "I've never heard that before, that a court can prohibit an argument of First Amendment rights," said Tosdal.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. rh

    Two choices – the government stays out of marriage or they allow the most liberal two-person definition of marriage. Unfortunate they picked the second, but the Christians want it that way and they are the majority.

    On the other hand, I had to get married due to federally mandated benefits (health insurance) and I wish the government would stay out of the marriage business completely. It is a religious ceremony, and violates the separation clause.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      While I agree with you in part, marriage is not just a religious ceremony. There are many marriage ceremonies that do not include religion whatsoever. In fact, without a marriage license, a religious ceremony is null and void.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      'It is a religious ceremony'

      Actually its not. All religions claim a ceremony to official make it a marriage in their religion but the concept of marriage was around before religion got involved.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • JustSomeone

      Actually, marriage is a legally binding contract. I think you are confusing marriage with "holy matrimony." Marriage has existed before Christianity or religion got involved. The state/nation has every right to dictate who can sign legally binding contracts and who can receive federal benefits.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      Newflash people: There is a legal definition of marriage and then there are ALL the different religious definitions. Religious has whatever restrictions your religion adheres to. Legal is a definition that has to accomodate all religions... and there are plenty of Christian denominations that perform gay marriages.

      Freedom of religion does not mean freedom for conservatives to impose their religion on others. You share the world with people who think differently than you. Get over it.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robert

    No big deal. Just another nail in the coffin of the U.S. as we move on down the road to nothing left to care about. Morals, common sense – who needs it?

    June 26, 2013 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • joan

      this is not about morality or your version of it, but about equality. And I think equality IS moral.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • tadashidavis

      Since when is a civil rights violation moral?

      June 26, 2013 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      It used to be "just plain wrong" to put a white male as equal to a black female.

      We threw that piece of "morals" out and the world did not explode in anarchy (aside from the violence from people who seemed to think it had to). In fact it improved our society drastically.

      Quit pretending it is either all traditional values or none. Religion does not own morality/ethics and it never has.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ShawnDH

    Sure blakenaustin.

    Because the mindless government oppression of your fellow citizens is such morality. NEWSFLASH: Your backwards, bankrupt "morals" are irrelevant to equality under the law in the 21st-century United States. Your "morals" do not dictate how others must live and how they are treated under the law. It's not that hard to understand.

    FREEDOM wins. American values win.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Look around bud – I don't see much winning going on.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. skins2153

    Go jump into traffic. When you wake up in "hell" youll be told that it was actually where hateful people wind up.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. creative36

    Little by little there will be more freedoms in this country. gay marriage, legalize cannabis, legalize brothels. And less secrets the government can keep secret. This is a win for America. Land of the almost free.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    America has lost its morality. No sign of character left in this great nation.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • joan

      I think equality IS morality.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      I whole heartedly disagree. Taking this step shows that our morals are still standing, and that they are inclusive of others as well. It took a great deal of character to make this move, contrary to your opinion.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom Michaels

      I agree 100%. The good old USA is two more steps down the 'in God's grace' staircase. Hold onto your faith people, the road is going to get more bumpy

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

    Thank you SCOTUS

    June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  10. Charles

    It's official I now pronounce you husband and husband you may kiss the groom

    June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Steven


      June 26, 2013 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. Roberto Severino

    And this landmar decision happened right under my nose too! Amazing. Glad these people will be able to get the same benefit that straight couples can.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. Adam

    America has lost its morality. No sense of character left in this great nation. . .

    June 26, 2013 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralph_in_FL

      So which are you, Steve or Adam?

      June 26, 2013 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. ShawnDH

    Robert whined: "No big deal. Just another nail in the coffin of the U.S. as we move on down the road to nothing left to care about. Morals, common sense – who needs it?"

    It's a very big deal for freedom. Freedom won today. Morality won today. Mindless oppression of gay citizens is not morals or common sense. It's bigotry, discrimination and oppression.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      Because marrying another adult human who can give consent is about the same as marrying an animal that cannot? Careful, I think your bigotry is showing.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. Hicup

    The air smells cleaner today.
    Cheers for my gay friends.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  15. Steven

    Typical, resorting to insults and name calling. Your name is right on by the way.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
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