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. parentch

    I'm pretty sure 'Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness' was/is meant for all citizens. Today is a progressive day.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. DCBuck

    Since when do you speak for God?

    June 26, 2013 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. Donnie the Lion

    Religion has NO place in politics. We don't live in Iran, after all.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. David

    A decision long in the making! this is evolution of mankind. We can only get so far when confined by a bible. good thing the founding fathers preached endlessly about separation of church and state.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • mjv

      I think this concept of 'separation between church and state' is very misunderstood today. Historically, it was in reference to a fear that a specific denomination would be linked with the government (just like the Church of England, or the Anglican Church is the official faith of England) and thus oppress other faiths (this is why many left England to settle in the Americas). It was, however, never intended to expel God from morals and laws within our society. I don't think it does justice to point to the founding fathers, as if they would rejoice in this most recent display of 'separation of church and state', quite honestly I think they would be horrified at such a shift in our country's direction concerning specific matters.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Dean

      Evolution? Into what? A Single gender society? Oh brother.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. Todd

    Awesome news. Hopefully ALL conservatives will see this as a good time to end their lives.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. Donnie the Lion

    If God were against gays, He would never allow gays. It isn't another test.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom Michaels

      Read God's word and you will understand why bad things happen.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • SOS

      I don't know why bad things happen – God

      June 26, 2013 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • arb

      Ridiculous reasoning to justify a sinful lifestyle.

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

      Actually, He gives the choice. You answer for your choices at a later time.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matt

    Justice served...long overdue. The arc of history is long, but it always bends towards justice. To those of you who predict gloom and doom for America....history has proven otherwise, never bet against America. God bless the USA!

    June 26, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. Boocat

    I see the bigoted hatemongering conservatives are out in full force this morning. CRY ME A RIVER.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. kevin

    hey now you can get your own island and try to repopulate it.I guess people and thier animals will get married next. 5 people went and screwd up marriage. I guess you dont even need a priest to get married anymore better just use a judge. They are the corrupt basterds anyway. Since alot of people dont believe in the good lord and think gays can get married they should not be allowed in the church at anyway. I would hate to pass away with no belief in the Lord. I would hate to pass away with no belief in the Lord. Good luck with that all of you non believers.

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

      'hey now you can get your own island and try to repopulate it.'
      because its impossible to have kids unless you are married so this ruling changes things?

      'I guess people and thier animals will get married next.'
      Really? that old chestnut?

      'I guess you dont even need a priest to get married anymore better just use a judge.'
      Actually yes, you dont need a priest. You certainly didnt with the first marriages that took place.

      'I would hate to pass away with no belief in the Lord. I would hate to pass away with no belief in the Lord. Good luck with that all of you non believers.'
      Lets hope you are worshipping the right one then. Tell you what, pray to them all just to be safe.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Jackson

      There are many different religions in the world. Do not act like yours is the chosen one, or the superior one.

      Also, since when does your religion tell you to preach such hatred? Did God tell you personally that it was your job to sit in judgement on others? I bet not.

      So, you're a big ole sinner yourself, aren't you, you hypocrite? Enjoy roasting in your hell.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Harry

      You are an idiot. A preacher was NEVER required to be married. Marriage is NOT a religious ceremony. Marriage is a civil lawful contract between two parties. Thats why MANY people have been married by a damn Elvis impersonator.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Actually you didn't need a priest before the ruling

      June 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ShawnDH

    How ironic considering YOU are the one who shares the "values" of Iran's religious extremists while we Americans support liberty, freedom and justice FOR ALL.

    Of course, mindless bigots can't understand the concept of irony.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  11. oreo

    This is merely a distraction for the sheeple.

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

      Yeah, yeah, yeah. Good thing you have it all figured out.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. pjusa

    NEXT: Polygamy – The legal door is open.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  13. KR

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
    Thank you TJ! Thank you Supreme Court!

    June 26, 2013 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. babyd

    Let the RAPTURE begin......

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

      oh there would be an amazingly large number of disappointed people if such an event was to occur.
      I think 99.9% of the religious posters here would be looking around wondering why they were still here.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. PROUD

    Baby steps... 🙂

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