Supreme Court Hears First Marriage Case: Calif. Prop 8

By:  Dave Bohon
Supreme Court Hears First Marriage Case: Calif. Prop 8

Today the Supreme Court heard arguments in a challenge to California's Prop. 8 constitutional amendment, which defines marriage in the state as only between a man and a woman.

The U.S. Supreme Court is settling in this week to hear two cases that may yield landmark decisions in the battle for marriage. The first, which is underway today, will decide the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, the 2008 voter initiative that added an amendment to the state's constitution defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. That case will be followed by a challenge to the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal business.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has reneged on the state's responsibility to defend Prop. 8, and while the amendment's original sponsor, a California group called, has stepped forward to defend the measure before the High Court, opponents argue that the group does not have legal standing to do so.

Prop. 8 opponents insist that legal standing requires those arguing for the amendment to demonstrate that they would be harmed if same-sex couples were allowed to marry. “Proponents have never contended — and do not contend before this Court — that they would personally suffer any injury if gay men and lesbians were permitted to marry in California,” wrote attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies, who are arguing the case on behalf of homosexual couples challenging Prop. 8. The attorneys contend that if the High Court finds does not have legal standing, then the amendment would automatically be voided and same-sex couples would be immediately able to marry in California.

By contrast,'s attorney, Charles Cooper, argued in papers submitted to the Supreme Court that the California Supreme Court gave his client the state's authority to defend the law — a decision the U.S. Supreme Court is legally bound to honor.

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Photo of U.S. Supreme Court building

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