The U.S. Supreme Court fight over California’s Proposition 8, viewed by gay-rights advocates as a historic opportunity to establish same-sex marriage nationwide, may not even settle the issue in the state.
The justices, who probably will rule next month, signaled during the March 26 argument that they might sidestep the underlying constitutional questions and decide that the defenders of the 2008 gay-marriage ban lacked “standing,” or legal eligibility, to bring the case. That could leave the status of gay marriage in California in doubt, spawn new litigation and perhaps even prompt another ballot initiative.
A standing ruling might mean “a quick death for Prop 8,” said Vikram Amar, a constitutional law professor at the University of California Davis School of Law. “But it’s also quite possible — maybe more likely — that it will take some time before we know which couples, beyond the two couples who sued, would be able to get their licenses.”