Legal scholars must really be in Heaven, trying to parse the words, consider the “What ifs?” and weigh the various options regarding Gay Marriage in the U.S. This past week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case on the issue. Until recently, Federal District Courts had been lining-up, one by one, in overturning state bans. In such situations, where there is agreement among the Lower Courts, the Supreme Court generally doesn’t interfere.
In early November, however, the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee) upheld the bans of the four states and, accordingly SCOTUS will finally step-in. The Court has re-written the “question permitted” in the Petition, which is highly unusual. That question phrases what exactly the Court will be ruling on. Some legal pundits feel that the Court might be phrasing the issue in such manner as to be telegraphing its own preferred outcome. But, others think not!
Another interesting point is that when the Court hears the oral arguments in April, it is separating them into two separate parts: the right to marry, and the right to have out-of-state marriages recognized. The Court’s Ruling is expected to be handed-down in June. Obviously, if the Court does rule in favor of the Right to Marry, then the second point becomes a meaningless one.
Many questions abound and I am sure that much more will be written about this until the day that SCOTUS announces its final Decision. The linked article from the NY Times provides a more in-depth discussion on this matter: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/18/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html?emc=edit_ae_20150117&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=64667462&_r=0.
The article points out a possible middle path, rather than a Decision either For or Against same-sex marriage. When the Court struck-down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, it basically allowed each of the 50 states (plus the District) to decide the issue for itself. It did become somewhat of a moot point, however, once the IRS ruled that it would allow all married couples, regardless of their state of residence, to enjoy the benefits of Marriage for Income and Estate Tax purposes.
But obviously, the emotional idea of having one’s union being equally recognized is also quite, quite important to most couples. That’s why I truly believe that the Court must finally put a stop to all this nonsense, and make a decisive ruling. Having both Mothers of a newborn named on the Birth Certificate or a Gay Partner on a Death Certificate, for instance, are just two among many issues which should, and must, finally be resolved.
We’ll know in June…hopefully!