The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has officially decided to take on cases involving same-sex marriage. Starting in late April, the court will hear petitions seeking review from plaintiffs challenging bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. All four petitions have been consolidated into one, following the Sixth Circuit Court’s decision to uphold bans on same-sex marriage. The current court had previously refused to hear appeals on rulings that had overturned state bans on same-sex marriage in October 2014. The news has prompted responses from groups on both sides of the aisle.
‘We are finally within sight of the day when same-sex couples across the country will be able to share the joys, protections and responsibilities of marriage,’ legal director of Lambda Legal Jon W. Davidson said.
Tony Perkins, President of the conservative lobbying group the Family Research Council, said that, ‘Lower court judges have robbed millions of people of their voice and vote on society’s most fundamental relationship—marriage. There is nothing in the Constitution that empowers the courts to silence the people and impose a nationwide redefinition of marriage.’
The first marriage case to reach the Supreme Court was Baker v. Nelson (1972). The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a state law which limited marriage to persons of the opposite sex did not violate the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal ‘for want of a substantial federal question’. In 2012, the court heard the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry – involving the state of California’s infamous Proposition 8 ballot proposition for a state constitutional amendment which banned same-sex marriage after the ban had been previously lifted in 2008 by the California Supreme Court.
The U.S. Supreme Court essentially kicked the case back to the ruling of the California Supreme Court, essentially declaring Proposition 8 unlawful. The same day as the Hollingsworth v. Perry decision was announced, the Supreme Court also announced a decision in United States v. Windsor, in which it struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prevented married same-sex couples from receiving the federal benefits as their married, heterosexual counterparts.
At this moment, 70% of Americans live in a state which allows same-sex marriage.
The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision in late June.