High Court To Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases

Supreme Court Hearing Same-Sex Cases The Supreme Court is officially entering the fray on the national issue of same-sex marriage, and has agreed to hear two cases that challenge state and federal laws prohibiting same-sex unions.

One of the cases, which was filed in California, could set a precedent either for or against the constitutional right to same-sex marriage. It is also possible that the Supreme Court could solely rule on grounds that would be applicable only in the state of California.

The other of the two cases is from New York, and it is challenging a federal law that denies benefits to gay and lesbian couples that are married in states in which same-sex marriages are allowed.

Recent polls have shown that many Americans approve of allowing same-sex marriages, which represents a significant shift over the past year. That fact also makes the high court’s decision to hear same-sex marriage cases that much more noteworthy.

The California case, Hollingsworth v. Perry is also widely known as the Prop 8 case (Prop 8 being a 2008 ballot measure to outlaw same-sex marriage). This case is challenging that California voters violated the federal Constitution when a decision to override a previous decision my by the California Supreme Court the previous year that allowed same-sex marriages.

A broad decision was passed by a federal judge in San Francisco that stated California was bound by the Constitution to allow same-sex marriages. The decision was narrowly affirmed by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

There are several possibilities for the outcome of this case. The Supreme Court could reverse the ruling and leave in place the state’s ban of same-sex unions. It could address whether or not the Constitution requires the allowance of same-sex marriage. Or it could affirm the case in a manner that would be specific only to California, as opposed to a more far-reaching ruling.

The New York case, United States v. Windsor , is challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That section defines the word “marriage” to apply solely to a “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife”. This specifically excludes all same-sex couples (legally married or not) from federal benefits.

More specifically, this case is in reference to two New York women, Edith Windsor and Thea Clara Spyer who were legally married in Canada. After Ms. Spyer died in 2009 her property was inherited by Windsor. Windsor was not treated as a surviving spouse under the 1996 law and was issue a tax bill of $360,000 by the Internal Revenue Service. A bill that would not have to be paid in a heterosexual marriage.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York struck down the 1996 law following a lawsuit by Edith Windsor. There was a similar ruling by a federal appeals court in Boston, Massachusetts.

Both of these cases are due to be heard in late March.

Category: Ministry News

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