USA: Prop 8 / Defense of Marriage Act Update 3/21/13

Written by scott on March 21st, 2013

Prop 8Once again, there’s tons of news on the Prop 8 and DOMA cases before the US Supreme Court as the hearing dates rapidly approach. Let’s get right to it.

To start, The Washington Blade has a nice take on the upcoming hearings themselves:

“It’s true that appellate courts, I would say, mostly base their decisions on the written submissions on the briefs,” Stoll said. “The main purpose of oral argument is to let the justices have questions that they have answered by the lawyers, and so, what the lawyers come in to say isn’t really the focus; it’s really what the justices want to have answered.” Mary Bonauto, civil rights director for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said oral arguments are a “filtering process” that provide justices the opportunity to explore possible outcomes of their rulings and persuade each other. “That’s part of why they’re so active,” Bonauto said. “They’re trying to influence each other’s votes and perspectives on it, and, effectively, argue the case themselves. If you ever read a Supreme Court transcript, it’s usually very difficult to read because there are so many interruptions.”

At Dot429, they’re looking at whether marriage itself should be considered a federal constitutional right:

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 cases currently at the United States Supreme Court will decide if marriage equality is within state or federal jurisdiction by determining if marriage is a constitutional right or not. President Obama, who says that marriage equality is a constitutional right, said it was a state issue in 2012 – and historically that has been the case. In the 1979 Supreme Court case Hisquierdo v. Hisquierdo, the court ruled that “[T]he whole subject of domestic relations of the husband and wife, parent and child belong to the law of the states and not the law of the United States.”

The gay rights group Get Equal just released a video reminding the Court that history won’t look kindly on a ruling against marriage equality. Frontiers reports:

The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows an historic high of 58 percent of Americans who now support marriage equality. But perhaps more importantly, considering the arc of history – young poll respondents ages 18 to 29 support the freedom to marry for same sex couples by an overwhelming record high of 81 percent. Perhaps with that in mind, GetEqual produced this video to remind the Supreme Court – which will hear oral arguments on Prop 8 and DOMA next Tuesday and Wednesday, that their legacy is at stake, too.

The Washington Blade has an interview with San Francisco’s City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who has been instrumental in pushing for marriage equality:

Washington Blade: What are your thoughts on the chances that Prop 8 will be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court?

Dennis Herrera: We’re very, very optimistic. You just need to look at what has been the course of this litigation. If we go back nine years ago, all the state court proceedings and more recently in the federal court system, I can’t tell you how gratified we were both at the District Court’s ruling and the Ninth Circuit [U.S. Court of Appeals] ruling clearly showing that there’s absolutely no constitutional justification whatsoever to discriminate when it comes to the issue of marriage equality.

Think Progress reports on the House GOP reply brief on the DOMA case:

House Republicans have filed a reply brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supreme Court, but the arguments boil down to “nuh-uh” or “just because” responses to Edie Windsor’s attorneys. Though it reiterates many of the arguments made in their initial brief, here’s a summary of the final written arguments against marriage equality in the DOMA case.

The article has a great breakdown of the main points of the brief – it looks like the kitchen sink approach. Our favorite:

Let democracy play out on same-sex marriage so opponents aren’t called bigots: “The democratic process requires opposing sides to attempt to persuade each other, to understand each other’s positions, and perhaps, at least temporarily, to reach compromises that both sides can accept. A constitutional right to same-sex marriage, on the other hand, could be achieved only by marginalizing, as bigoted at worst or irrational at best, the ‘profound and deep convictions’ of those who disagree.”

USA Today takes a look at the plaintiffs behind the Prop 8 case:

Stier, the Iowa farm girl, and Perry, from California’s Central Valley, each brought two sons from prior relationships to their union. They spent more of the next 13 years as PTA moms rather than activists, while also working: Perry directs a private early education program for disadvantaged children, and Stier runs information technology programs for a government health services agency. Zarrillo, the Jersey boy who was raised in a “Donna Reed family,” and Katami, who grew up attending Catholic schools, aspire to being as effective working parents as Perry and Stier have been. All four are cautiously optimistic about their case.

And LGBTQ Nation reports that the country’s most influential group of pediatricians has endorsed marriage equality ahead of the hearings:

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ new policy, published online Thursday, cites research showing that the parents’ sexual orientation has no effect on a child’s development. Kids fare just as well in gay or straight families when they are nurturing and financially and emotionally stable, the academy says… The academy announced its position Thursday. Officials with the group said they wanted to make the academy’s views known before two gay marriage cases are considered by the U.S. Supreme Court next week.

Finally, NPR looks back at the fight so far:

It took a long time to reach this place. And the path included a lot of suffering for a lot of people. When former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank was a kid in the 1950s, gay marriage was inconceivable. He barely thought he could work in government as an openly gay person. “It never struck me as remotely possible that I could have an elected career and even an appointed career,” he says. “I assumed I would have to be very closeted to get that.”


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