Supreme Court Hears Gay Marriage Oral Arguments — Videos
Supreme Court Hears Gay Marriage Oral Arguments
By Raymond Thomas Pronk
The traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and woman held by a majority of Americans is being challenged by a growing minority who want to expand the definition of marriage by including gay or same-sex couples.
In November 2008 California voters approved the Proposition 8 ballot initiative, which amended the state constitution and states that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Subsequently, the United States District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have found Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.
On March 26, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger, initially, and then Perry v. Brown) regarding the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8.
Below are some of the highlights of the justices’ questions and remarks:
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia
“When did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the 14th Amendment was adopted?”
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor
“Outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing burdens on them? Is there any other rational decision-making that the government could make? Denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort, any other decision?”
Associate Justice Elena Kagan
“Suppose a state said that, Because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55. Would that be constitutional?”
Associate Justice Samuel Alito
“You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cellphones or the Internet? I mean we — we are not — we do not have the ability to see the future.”
Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy
“There’s substance to the point that sociological information is new. We have five years of information to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more.”
Chief Justice John Roberts
“I’m not sure that it’s right to view this as excluding a particular group. When the institution of marriage developed historically, people didn’t get around and say, ‘Let’s have this institution, but let’s keep out homosexuals.’ The institution developed to serve purposes that, by their nature, didn’t include homosexual couples.”
The oral arguments can be heard in their entirety on the YouTube video titled “Gay Marriage Supreme Court Oral Arguments.”
The Supreme Court’s decision in the case is expected in June.
Raymond Thomas Pronk is host of the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 3-5 p.m. Fridays and author of the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com/
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Gay marriage was heard before the Supreme Court, which heard arguments on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, that defined marriage between one man and one woman. The proposition was approved by California’s voters in the 2008 General Election, but struck down later by the district court.
The basic history of how the case came to the court:
Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger, initially, and then Perry v. Brown) is a case currently before the United States Supreme Court, on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. There, a three judge appellate panel held that California’s Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to allow only opposite-sex couples to marry, was unconstitutional. Lawsuits challenging Proposition 8 were filed in state and federal courts nearly immediately after the initiative’s passage. In Strauss v. Horton (2009), the California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 8 was a valid enactment under California law. However, in August 2010, Judge Vaughn Walker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that Proposition 8 violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The judgment was stayed pending appeal. On February 7, 2012, a divided three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld the decision of the district court, though it did so on much narrower grounds than the District Court did. On June 5, 2012, the Ninth Circuit denied a request for a rehearing en banc. The proponents of Proposition 8 appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court on July 31, 2012. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case by granting a writ of certiorari on December 7, 2012. Oral arguments were heard on March 26, 2013.
The full case:
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