Thursday, June 27, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court Decisions on Same-Sex Marriage Signal Renewed Challenges to Religious Liberty

Liberty Institute News

Liberty Institute responded to numerous national media requests for our reaction to this week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in two cases that concern same-sex marriage. Our attorneys told each reporter and interviewer that a slim majority of the Court got it wrong in both cases.

  1. The Court got it wrong in striking down Section 3 of DOMA, the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Section 3 defined marriage as between one man and one woman for the purpose of federal law. The Court ruled that it violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause to deny federal spousal benefits (Social Security, favorable tax status, etc.) to same sex spouses living in the 12 states and the District of Columbia where same sex marriage is legal.
    On the day the decision was handed down, opponents of DOMA celebrated, chanting, “DOMA is dead.” But DOMA is not dead. Section 2 protects states from being forced to recognize the same sex marriages of couples from other states. That part of DOMA still stands. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his dissent that the ruling does not address a broader right to marriage. That issue was not before the Court.
  2. The Court got it wrong in the case challenging California’s Proposition 8, defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. California’s governor and attorney general refused to stand up for the will of the people and defend that law when it was challenged. So the citizen groups, who worked hard to get the law on the ballot and to ensure its passage, stepped in. The Supreme Court said this coalition did not have standing to do so. Therefore the district court’s decision striking down Prop. 8 stands. This is a defeat for democracy because California citizens were denied recourse to defend the law they passed.

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