The Marriage Cases: Legal Challenges to Prop 8 and DOMA
The 14th Amendment guarantees liberty and equal protection to every American. Do state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage violate that amendment? Is the federal government’s refusal to recognize a marriage that is legal in a state federal overreach? The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide the answers to these questions by the end of June 2013 in two cases related to same-sex marriage.
Professor Dale Carpenter provides a brief explanation of the two cases before the Court. In 2008, California voters passed Prop 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state. This law is being contested on the grounds that the equality principle is violated because opposite-sex couples have rights that are denied to same-sex couples. It is also contested on the grounds that every American has a fundamental right to marry. A similar case centers on the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996. This law limits federal recognition of same-sex marriages, thereby denying same-sex couples more than a thousand benefits otherwise available under federal law. This means that even when a couple is legally married according to the state, the federal government does not recognize the marriage.
There are many possible outcomes in both cases. In the DOMA case, for example, Prof. Carpenter argues that “there is no legitimate federal interest in denying recognition to validly married same-sex couples.” He has submitted a brief to the Court asking it to strike down DOMA on federalism grounds. But will the justices agree? What do you think about these cases?
Attorneys Debate Constitutionality, Legality on Prop 8 Case (video): A PBS News Hour debate between California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Austin Nimocks from the Alliance Defending Freedom, two attorneys who were present in the courtroom for the Prop 8 case
Debating Discrimination in Defense of Marriage Act (video): A PBS News Hour debate between Ken Klukowski, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Center, and Mary Bonauto, special counsel for the group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Proposition 8 Made Simple (video): A simple, balanced explanation of Proposition 8
Legal Analysis of DOMA and Prop 8 (video): Legal experts explain what issues are before the high court, and how the possible outcomes could have an impact in California and beyond
The Federalist Case against DOMA [article]: A Reason article on the illicit role of the federal government in state politics regarding DOMA
Making the Case for Marriage: Representing DOMA in Court [article]: The Heritage Foundation supports the constitutionality of DOMA