Two cases involving same-sex marriage will be heard by the Supreme Court in the upcoming month: Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry. The former involves a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the latter involves the California law, Proposition 8, which makes homosexual marriage illegal. The Obama Department of Justice have filed a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of overturning Proposition 8. Surprisingly, some conservatives, including Clint Eastwood and former presidential candidate John Huntsman, have also filed such a brief on behalf of overturning Proposition 8, albeit for different reasons.
A 2012 Pew Research poll found that 48% of Americans support gay marriage and 43% oppose it. It is legal in 9 states, and constitutionally banned in 30. New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed gay marriage legislation in 2012. The federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage, nor does it require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states under the 1996 DOMA. The main issue at hand, however, is whether these laws violate the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause.
The two cases will be heard by the court in late March. The court may strike down DOMA in its entirety, uphold it completely, or possibly make it so the states can set their own definitions of marriage. This third option would strike down Section III of DOMA, defining marriage as between a man and a woman federally, but keep section II, which allows states to not recognize same-sex marriages from other states. This situation is complicated by the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, which requires contracts to stay valid and be enforceable across state lines.
The Wall Street Journal, Obama Urges End to Gay Ban: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323293704578332770841357016.html?mod=WSJ_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsSecond
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Overview of Same-Sex Marriage in the U.S.: http://www.pewforum.org/Gay-Marriage-and-Homosexuality/Overview-of-Same-Sex-Marriage-in-the-United-States.aspx
Pro Con, Gay Marriage: http://gaymarriage.procon.org/
Department of Justice, Friend of the Court Brief Hollingsworth v. Perry: http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/12-144tsacUnitedStates.pdf
SCOTUS Blog, Hollingsworth v. Perry: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/hollingsworth-v-perry/
Cornell University Law School, Loving v. Virginia: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0388_0001_ZO.html
MSNBC, Conservative and Republican Friend of the Court Brief Hollingsworth v. Perry: http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/KennethBMehlman.pdf