The U.S. Supreme court has set dates for hearings on two cases concerning same-sex marriage. It will hear arguments on California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state, on March 26, beginning at 7:00 a.m. Pacific time.

It will hear a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA the next day, on March 27, at the same time.

In the Proposition 8 hearing, Hollingsworth v. Perry, the court is asking parties to argue whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the· union of a man and a woman.

It’s also asking them to present arguments on whether the people defending Proposition 8 — its sponsors — have legal standing. Normally state government officials would defend a state law that is challenged in federal court, but in this case California’s governor Jerry Brown opposes the law.

DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage for any purpose under federal laws, such as providing benefits like healthcare. In United States v. Windsor, the court is asking the parties to present arguments about whether this violates the Fifth Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law.

It is also asking them to debate the question of whether the U.S. House of Representatives has standing to defend DOMA since President Barack Obama is declining to defend it.

Here’s some background on the two cases.

The office of San Francisco’s City Attorney Dennis Herrera, which is a co-plaintiff in the suit against Proposition 8, offered a timeline of the case.

Supreme Court Sets Dates for Prop. 8, DOMA Hearings 21 March,2013Laird Harrison

  • ldfrmc

    Would seem odd, if the court decided to strike down Prop 8 (for whatever reason), but uphold DOMA, section 3.

    Just as odd, if the court decided to strike down DOMA, section 3 only, and find Prop 8 unconstitutional – open same-sex marriage to all states.

    Not betting, but Prop 8 will go (for whatever reason, short of a constitutional recognition of the right to marry in all states) and DOMA, section 3 only, will go – married in your state? US Gov says you are married too.

    Making it: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington, District of Columbia and California.

    Almost 28% of the nation’s population live in those 10 states and D.C.
    Just shy of a third of the country’s population, if Illinois is added in 2013.

    Hard to imagine – being married, part-time, depending on where you live, or which state you visit, which state you might do business with or in. Sure will cause a lot of hell for some military service members and their families.

    Federal government exempts military and other federal workers from state laws all the time for all sorts of matters. Wonder if they won’t also say the military and all federal workers are exempt – if married, you’re married for all federal and state purposes.

    • Thomas Alex

      I believe Prop 8 will be overturned as unconstitutional, because it violates the 14th Amendment. I also believe the court will find a Constitutional Right to same-sex marriage. I’m not quite sure how they could overturn Prop 8 without overturning all bans on same-sex marriage.

      Justice Kennedy is the swing vote for Gay rights and I know he will want to be remembered as the one who legalized same-sex marriage. 54% of Americans support same-sex marriage, while 77% of adults 18 to 30 do. At this point, the court is behind on the subject. Which is where the court likes to be when making sweeping broad rulings. When the court legalized interracial marriage nationwide over 70% of American’s were against it. So I believe they will legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

      It has been 10 years since the court ruled 6-3 that Gay sex is a Constitution Right and legalized the act nationwide. 10 years is plenty of time to have evolved on the issue of marriage, especially if Gay sex is a Constitutional Right, then shouldn’t marriage be also?

      Now comes the tricky part, if the court finds a Constitutional Right to same-sex marriage, would that mean all of DOMA would be overturned? Section 1 and 2 could not be enforced if same-sex marriage was found to be a Constitutional Right. Thus the court would have to invalidate DOMA in its entirety, of course the law would remain on the books until congress repealed it, but the law would be unenforceable. Which could be why they’re hearing the Prop 8 case first, because a ruling in that case could moot the DOMA case all together or at least make it easier for them to overturn it.

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