A Pennsylvania judge on Thursday ordered a suburban Philadelphia county clerk to comply with the state's same-sex marriage ban and stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
Since July, D. Bruce Hanes, the elected Montgomery County register of wills, has given out 174 licenses to same-sex couples, ignoring a 1996 state law that defines marriage as "between one man and one woman."
The state Department of Health sued to stop Hanes, saying he is in "direct defiance" of the ban and "risks causing serious and limitless harm to the public."FULL STORY
[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:
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
[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 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."
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.
France is set to become the latest nation to legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday, despite vocal opposition from conservatives, when legislation goes before lawmakers in the lower house for a final vote.
The bill, which would also give same-sex couples the rights to adopt, was approved in the Senate earlier this month.
Since no amendments have been made during debate in the lower house, it will be the final vote on the legislation. The measure is expected to pass.FULL STORY
The French Senate will debate a controversial bill Thursday that would extend the right to marry and adopt to same-sex couples.
The lower house has already approved the legislation, in the face of large demonstrations from those opposed to the measure.
If it passes the Senate, it would mark the biggest step forward for French gay rights advocates in more than a decade.FULL STORY
[Updated at 1:36 p.m.] We're wrapping up Day 2 of the same-sex marriage court debate here - check out our main story for more detail and analysis as it comes today. As always, we want to hear from you.
[Updated at 1:20 p.m.] "I'm very optimistic that DOMA will be struck down, it has no rational basis for being," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said just now. Pelosi was at the Supreme Court to hear arguments over DOMA and California's Proposition 8 over the past two days.
Pelosi's district has been at the epicenter of gay rights for decades. She called the oral arguments at the Supreme Court "thrilling."
Watch CNN.com Live for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial of Jodi Arias, who's accused of killing her ex-boyfriend in 2008.
Today's programming highlights...
12:00 pm ET (est.) - Supreme Court federal marriage law hearing reaction - This morning, the Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. That hearing will not be televised, but we will hear from lawyers and plaintiffs in the case at its conclusion.
Day Two of the culture wars at the Supreme Court over same-sex marriage, and another opportunity for the justices to give political and legal clarity to a contentious issue.
The momentous week kicked off on Tuesday with arguments over California's same-sex marriage ban, and there was little indication when they concluded how the court might rule.
The stakes are high as the justices could, in one scenario, fundamentally alter how American law treats marriage with polls showing the public becoming more aware of the issue, and in some cases, more in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to legally wed.FULL STORY
[Updated at 12:48 p.m. ET] We're signing off on this end for now - check out our main story for more detail and analysis as it comes today. We answer your questions here, and want to hear from you here.
Don't forget to join us again here tomorrow, when the Supreme Court hears the second round of debate on same-sex marriage: the Defense of Marriage Act.
[Updated at 12:31 p.m. ET] Director Rob Reiner, who watched today’s oral arguments, is a vocal critic against Proposition 8. Here's what he had to say after court adjourned:
“Today is a historic day for all those who believe in freedom and equality. After more than four years of working our case through victories at the federal District and Circuit courts, we finally had an opportunity today to present our arguments in support of marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans before the highest court in the land. This case has always been about the love shared by two individuals and about the central promise from our nation’s founding that all men are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights, including the pursuit of happiness.
[Updated at 12:11 p.m. ET] Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, tells reporters outside the court that he believes both sides of the argument have agreed that it is impossible to know with certainly how society would change by redefining "a fundamental institution such as marriage.
[Updated at 12:04 p.m. ET] “Today we feel we clearly presented the winning case for marriage,” says Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, who is speaking with reporters now.
[Updated at 12:01 p.m. ET] Charles Cooper, lead counsel defending Proposition 8, told reporters that he couldn't sum up his argument in a couple of sentences. "We believe Proposition 8 is constitutional," he said, making a brief statement.
[Updated at 11:48 a.m. ET] Kris Perry, a plaintiff in the Prop 8 case, just spoke, saying: "In this country as children, we learn that there's a founding principle, that all men and women are created equal. … Unfortunately with the passage of Proposition 8, we learned that there are group of people in California who are not being treated equally."
"We look forward to a day when prop 8 is officially eliminated and equality is restored to the state of California."
[Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET] Republican Ted Olson and Democrat David Boies, who joined forces to argue against Prop 8, are speaking outside the courthouse now. What's important from today, Olson said, is "the American people were listening to the argument. The other side, nobody really offered a defense."
"We're very gratified they listened, they heard, they asked hard questions, (but) there is no denying where the right is, and we hope the court (rules that way) in June."
[Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET] According to Toobin, there were a lot of questions along these lines from Justices Scalia and Alito: We don’t know the effects of same sex parenting on children, so why don’t we wait and let the states go experiment? Why do we, the Supreme Court, have to get involved in this process?
Toobin said Roberts also seemed sympathetic to these questions.
[Updated at 11:39 a.m. ET] The attorney general and the governor of California have refused to defend Prop 8. So the question, Toobin says, is "Who can defend the law? Who has the standing?" The answer to that question will be key to resolving the case.
Conservative Justices Scalia, Alito and Roberts were "very hostile of idea of the court imposing same sex marriage," according to Toobin. The four Democratic justices seemed favorably disposed.
Justice Kennedy seemed like he was in the middle, he said things that would "give comfort for both sides," Toobin says. Kennedy suggested the issue was brought prematurely before the court.
[Updated at 11:37 a.m. ET] The justices seemed very focused on how Prop 8 affects children, with Justice Kagan at some point suggesting that California have a law allowing same-sex marriage for people past child-bearing age, Toobin said.
Kagan said, according to Toobin: “I assure you if two 55 year old people, there aren’t a lot of children (coming from that marriage).”
[Updated at 11:34 a.m. ET] "This was a deeply divided Supreme Court, a court that seemed groping for answers," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said after watching the arguments. "Now I think its even harder to predict the result of this case after hearing this argument."
[Updated at 11:31 a.m. ET] Oral arguments have wrapped up, according to CNN Supreme Court producer Bill Mears. They went just a bit over schedule, lasting about one hour and 20 minutes.
[Updated at 11:23 a.m. ET] While we wait on word from the courthouse, consider this: A new CNN/ORC International Poll indicates that 53% of Americans support same-sex marriage. In the same survey, 57% of respondents said they had a family member or close friend who is gay or lesbian.
Here's a look at the issue, by the numbers.
[Updated at 11:06 a.m. ET] The same-sex marriage debate is a huge issue, and the lawyers inside were penciled in for an hour to make their cases. Doesn't sound like much time, but to be fair, the oral arguments regarding the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") last March lasted roughly two hours.
Tomorrow's DOMA arguments have been given one hour and 50 minutes. We'll see if they stay on schedule today.
[Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET] If all is going to plan, Jean Podrasky, a lesbian whose first cousin happens to be Chief Justice John Roberts, is inside the court hearing the arguments.
"I know that my cousin is a good man," she wrote in an op-ed this week. "I feel confident that John is wise enough to see that society is becoming more accepting of the humanity of same-sex couples and the simple truth that we deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and equality under the law."
You might see a lot of red avatars with a “=” equal sign in your Twitter feed today. Supporters of marriage rights for same-sex couples are wearing red today to show their support – both on their persons and their social media accounts. That includes Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Watch CNN.com Live for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial of Jodi Arias, who's accused of killing her ex-boyfriend in 2008.
Today's programming highlights...
8:30 am ET - Marriage equality rally outside Supreme Court - The high court considers California's ban on same-sex marriage this morning. Today's hearing will not be televised. but he will hear from protesters outside the court. Following the hearing, we expect to hear from lawyers and plaintiffs involved in the case.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced for the first time Monday she supports marriage rights for same-sex couples, saying that "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."
"America is at its best when we champion the freedom and dignity of every human being," Clinton said in a video produced by the Human Rights Campaign.FULL STORY
Hours after Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced he reversed his position on same-sex marriage, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he won't second guess Portman but he's not entirely embracing the Ohio senator's change of heart, either.
Portman told CNN's Dana Bash that after his 21-year-old son came out two years ago, he came to the conclusion that same-sex marriage "is something that we should allow people to do."FULL STORY
You probably recognize Sen. Rob Portman from his tireless campaigning for Mitt Romney in 2012. He was even on the short list to be Romney's running mate.
He's been a leading Republican voice on economic issues for four decades.
Now, the prominent Ohio conservative will be known for something else: reversing his hardline position against gay marriage.
He invited CNN to his Senate office to reveal the news.
"I'm announcing today a change of heart on an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about that has to do with gay couples' opportunity to marry," Portman told CNN.
It has to do with another revelation, one deeply personal. His 21-year-old son, Will, is gay.FULL STORY
President Barack Obama faces a monumental choice today over whether to put the force of his office behind the idea that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.
Government sources say the Justice Department will by day's end articulate a legal position in the so-called Proposition 8 case, a ban by California voters over same-sex marriage that is now being challenged in the Supreme Court.FULL STORY
A writer commissioned to help launch a new "Adventures of Superman" digital comics series is drawing controversy for the comics' publisher not for his perception of the Man of Steel, but for his perception of marriage - specifically, his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Science fiction writer Orson Scott Card has been commissioned by longtime "Superman" publisher DC Comics to write a two-part story launching its new "Adventures of Superman" digital series. Card is perhaps best known for the classic 1985 sci-fi novel "Ender's Game," but he also has sparked controversy with his outspoken criticism of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
In a 2004 essay titled "Homosexual 'Marriage' and Civilization," Card wrote, "... either civilized people will succeed in establishing a government that protects the family...or the politically correct barbarians will have complete victory over the family - and, lacking the strong family structure on which civilization depends, our civilization will collapse or fade away."
News that Card would be among writers on the new "Adventures of Superman" digital comics prompted marriage-equality group AllOut.org to launch a petition drive aimed at DC Comics.
The Illinois Senate passed a measure Thursday to legalize same-sex marriage, voting 34-21.
The state House will consider it next. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has indicated that he would sign the bill.
Illinois would be the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage, according to Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization.FULL STORY
Same-sex spouses of U.S. service members could soon be granted some benefits that they had been denied until now.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to announce this week that service members' same-sex spouses will receive some of those benefits, according to an Obama administration official.
The Pentagon has been reviewing what benefits it could extend without violating the Defense of Marriage Act. Gay rights groups have been calling for the change. Among the benefits gay rights groups say can be legally extended are housing on military bases, military ID cards to access on-base activities and programs, access to commissaries and the consideration of a same-sex spouse and family in duty assignments.FULL STORY
A woman who says she believes a private military spouses club excluded her because she’s gay says she’d still join the group if it reverses its decision.
“I would go tomorrow,” Ashley Broadway, the wife of U.S. Army Lt. Col. Heather Mack, told CNN's Brooke Baldwin on “CNN Newsroom” Tuesday afternoon. “Wherever we were stationed, I was a volunteer of some sort. Between my educational background, my volunteerism, my energy, my enthusiasm to help all military families, I would absolutely be elated to. If anything, I would like to be a part of the group so that they can see that my family is no different than their families.”
Broadway applied to the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses after she and Mack - who married in Washington, D.C. - moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Broadway says the club told her she couldn’t join because she doesn’t have military identification.
[Updated at 7:04 p.m. ET] The U.S. Supreme Court's announcement Friday that it will soon tackle the contentious issue of same-sex marriage is "a major event in American history, not just in Supreme Court history," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said.
"The Supreme Court is not just going to decide whether the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional, they are also going to decide whether Proposition 8 in California - whether the ban on same-sex marriage there is unconstitutional, and that could affect all 50 states," Toobin said.
The court says it will hear two appeals: one involving the federal Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples legally married in their own state; and one involving a challenge to California's Proposition 8, a voter-approved referendum that took away the right of same sex-marriage that previously had been approved by the state's courts. Read more about these cases.
Oral arguments in the high court appeal will likely be held in March, with a ruling by late June.
Here's some of what's being said about Friday afternoon's announcement:
Edith Windsor, who had a 42-year partnership with Thea Clara Spyer and is behind the DOMA case, told the Guardian's Adam Gabbat that she is "delirious with joy."