USA: After the Supreme Court Rules on Marriage Equality, President Obama May Shape the Result

Written by scott on June 13th, 2013

US Supreme CourtIf the Supreme Court strikes down Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act, it will be up to the Obama administration to implement the changes. The New York Times reports:

Gay rights advocates, aware that a Supreme Court ruling that overturns the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act would be the beginning of their push to have the federal government recognize same-sex marriage, are urging White House officials to plan to modify hundreds of mentions of marriage throughout federal statutes and regulations. Many legal analysts say there is a substantial chance that the Supreme Court will strike down the 1996 law, which in defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.

“We’re going to fight to ensure that legally married gay couples have access to all federal benefits and protections, irrespective of state borders,” said Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization in Washington. “When it comes to federal benefits, it shouldn’t matter what side of a state border you live on.”

Pink News lays out 6 possible outcomes of the Prop 8 case:

The court could uphold Prop 8, leaving the California ban on equal marriage intact. The next step for equal marriage advocate would then be to attempt to return to having voters re-legalise equal marriage.

A strike down of Prop 8, and the issuing of a broad ruling, which would find that any state ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. This would be the most far-reaching outcome, and would effectively allow equal marriage across the US.

The court could invalidate Prop 8, but let the Court of Appeals’ ruling stand, which would allow same-sex marriages to resume in California, possibly a month after the ruling.

A strike down of Prop 8 which finds that states such as California that provide equal benefits to same-sex couples, must allow marriages in order to comply with federal equal protection rights. This decision would apply to California, as well as seven other states with domestic partner laws and civil unions for same-sex couples.

In the most confusing outcome, the court could find that the supporters of Prop 8 never had the right to defend the law on behalf of the state, following the 2010 ruling that it was unconstitutional. This would lead to further legal battles over the scope of the ruling, and whether it applies across the state.

The Supreme Court could rule that it never should have accepted the case for review. This would also allow the Appeals Court ruling to stand, effectively striking down Prop 8, and allowing same-sex marriages to resume in California.

And Dana Beyer at the Huffington Post reminds us that there’s more to LGBT rights than marriage equality:

While we await, hunkered down and hardly breathing, the Supreme Court marriage decisions later this month, let’s not forget there is more to freedom and equality than the right to marry and receive federal relationship recognition. There remain all the civil liberty and economic empowerment issues that attach to being an American citizen, whether one is gay, trans, or queer in the broadest sense, and whether or not one is in a relationship, for better or for worse. This week there have been two campaigns focused on individual liberty, one a social media campaign #morethanmarriage to educate and inform, and to lay the groundwork for the post-SCOTUS world. The other a legal case, Howe v. Haslam brought to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, the outcome of which may have huge, broad repercussions for people across the fifty states.


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