Gay Marriage Gets the W

The Supreme Court announced its long awaited decisions on two landmark cases involving gay marriage this morning, and the homosexual community is very pleased with the results. Though the divided justices’ decisions were more of a middle ground than the trailblazing moves that gay marriage supporters were hoping for, it’s still an important victory for the movement.

Case #1: The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

In this decision, the Court decided that gay couples are entitled to the federal benefits of married couples if they get married in a state where gay marriage is legal. This decision invalidated a section of the Defense of Marriage Act which denied these benefits to same-sex couples. The section of DOMA which allows other states to not recognize gay marriages performed in other states remains intact, however.

Case #2: Proposition 8

The case arose from California’s narrow passing of Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage in 2008 after the state had already given the right to homosexual couples. The appeals court ruled that voters could not take away this right when a gay couple brought the proposition to court. With strong supporters on both sides, this controversial decision made its way to the Supreme Court, which was given the task of deciding whether or not Proposition 8 was constitutional.

Here, the Court had the opportunity to issue a landmark ruling that gave gay couples the right to marry nationwide. Instead, they decided that they did not have the authority to rule on the case. Though the effects are not immediately clear, the Supreme Court has effectively allowed gay marriages in California to resume. For the many states with bans in place, however, the case does not change a thing.

What’s next?

So what’s next for the debate on gay marriage? Supporters plan to resume their strategy of passing laws state by state. With the Supreme Court leaning slightly toward gay rights in individual states, albeit because of a technicality, liberal gay marriage advocates are invigorated. Already 6 states besides California have granted gay couples the right to marry, and many more are well on their way. The effects of these decisions are hard to anticipate at this time, but it is exciting to watch as these landmark changes unfold.