Supreme Court debates same-sex marriage CCM students voice opinions on the controversial issue

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 The Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutional­ity of same-sex marriage based off two statutes with hundreds of people waiting both inside and outside the United States Su­preme Court building in Wash­ington, D.C., on March 26 and 27.

According to the Pew Re­search Center, “there is slightly more support for same-sex mar­riage than opposition to it with 48% in favor and 43% opposed… In 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a 57% to 35% margin.” It can be clearly inferred that views on same-sex marriage have drastically shifted in the past 12 years.

“I think it’s a big step,” said Brian Weismantel, journalism major at County College of Mor­ris. “It shows how far the topic has come. It’s definitely come a long way.”

First heard by the Supreme Court was an issue dealing with the constitutionality of Proposi­tion 8, voted on by California vot­ers in 2008.

This statute defined marriage in California as between a man and a woman. Unique to this case was the methodology in which the law was presented to Cali­fornia voters – never before has a ballot initiative come before the highest court in the land.

Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan posed a hypothetical ques­tion to the supporters of Proposi­tion 8 regarding the state’s inter­est in regulating marriage for the interest of procreation amongst couples over 55 years of age.

“I can just assure you if both the woman and the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out of that mar­riage.”

Two probing questions were confronted by the court in this case: Do the petitioners have the right to file a lawsuit under our Constitution in this matter?

Also, does the Equal Protec­tion Clause of the 14th Amend­ment, which prohibits states from denying its residents protection under the law, prohibit Califor­nia from defining marriage as the union of one man and one wom­an?

Joe Somma, liberal arts ma­jor at CCM said he hopes that the Supreme Court rules that it’s not the government’s business to in­trude in the citizens’ personal life.

“Nobody can be held for what they do in their private life,” he said. “It contradicts the idea of freedom.”

The other constitutional issue heard by the Court was the con­stitutionality of a law signed by President Clinton in 1996. This federal law denies federal benefits to gay and lesbian couples.

Making this issue more complex, on Feb. 23, 2011, the president and the attorney general announced that they would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), according to the U.S. Supreme Court Media.

At issue in this case are three essential legal questions.

First, does Section 3 of DOMA violate the Fifth Amend­ment’s guarantee of equal pro­tection of the laws as applied to people of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their state?

Next, does the executive branch’s agreement with the rul­ing handed down by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that DOMA is unconstitutional deprive the Supreme Court of the right to decide this case?

Finally at issue was whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives has Article III standing in this case. The Bipar­tisan Legal Advisory Committee is a group of House representa­tives who support the upholding of DOMA.

After the President and the Attorney General announced that they would not defend the act in front of the Court, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group filed a pe­tition to intervene in defense of DOMA and motioned to dismiss the case.

Questions thrown at the at­torneys from the bench included the potential social and political implications resulting from this policy change, the questions of standing and injury, and many others.

The Supreme Court will make a ruling on these two cases before they leave for summer re­cess in June. Whichever way the Court leans will have an enor­mous impact on the future of gay marriage in this country.

“I’m not against it,” said Faye Hunt, human services ma­jor at CCM. “People do whatever makes them happy.”


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