For the first time in history, the Supreme Court will be hearing two gay rights cases in one term. Between now and June, public attention will be focused closely on the right of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals to equality under the law and of same-sex couples to have their relationships treated equally by the federal government and at least California.
The Supreme Court has now decided to hear one of the challenges to the provision of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) barring federal recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages and also to hear the challenge to California’s Proposition 8. What does it mean?
The decision to hear a case does not mean that the Court thought the lower courts got it wrong. It means the justices want to have the cases fully briefed and argued to them before they make a decision about the issues. So, in both the ACLU’s Windsor v. United States case and in AFER’s Hollingsworth v. Perry case, the parties will file briefs early in 2013 and the Court is likely to hear argument in late March, with decisions expected by June 27. Lower courts have already ruled in Windsor that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, and in Hollingsworth that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.
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