First off, Paul Gorrell at The Huffington Post thinks the decisions will likely mean an end to civil unions:
Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships were an attempt to provide some legal recognition to same-sex couples while not allowing the usage of the word “marriage” to describe the relationship. This created a “separate, but equal” status for same-sex couples. This model was endorsed by some conservatives, even fiercely anti-gay marriage proponent President George W. Bush, as a kind of compromise that often offered the same exact benefits that straight married couples receive at the state level. Since DOMA prevented every gay couples from the federal benefits of marriage, whether legally married or in a civil union, the argument was that civil unions were a balanced compromise.
Politicians who like the “separate, but equal” compromise will no longer have that option if DOMA is struck down. Why? Because, now they will be the ones who block their state’s residents from receiving federal benefits. They will be the ones who do harm to their constituents; they won’t be able to blame DOMA anymore.
At Equality on Trial, Jacob Combs wonders if the laws will be struck down on sex discrimination grounds:
As [University of Georgia School of Law professor Sonja] West points out, a law isn’t necessarily constitutional just because is applies equally to men and women. That very argument was made in the landmark Loving v. Virginia case in favor of anti-miscegination laws, which supporters said did not constitute equal protection violations because they prohibited both white and black people from marrying partners of a different race. To put it simply, the Supreme Court disagreed. West is right in saying that Justice Kennedy might find it easier to strike down a law like Prop 8 on gender discrimination grounds, because it would save him the trouble of having to decide whether or not sexual identity should be added to the list of classifications which courts are especially careful to consider in equal protection cases.
We’re down to just three announced days for rulings (although more could be added). Thursday, Monday, and the following Thursday.