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December 8th, 2012
The lead article in today’s New York Times, “Justices to Hear Two Challenges on Gay Marriage,” rightly brings the decision on same-sex marriage where it belongs, the Supreme Court. In courts on all levels, decisions have resounded in favor of marriage equality, at least in terms of civil laws. It is important to understand that no one is questioning the rights of churches and other religious organizations to their own theological interpretation.
One of the cases, from California, may allow the Supreme Court to make an overall decision about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, with the possibility of making this structure legal nationwide. Currently, nine states allow it. The case also features a high-powered legal team arguing in favor of marriage equality: Ted Olson and David Boies, who squared off in the infamous Bush v. Gore argument that decided the 2000 Presidential election.
The other case, from New York, involves the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. A gay couple who were married legally in Canada came to the U.S., and when one spouse died, the other was unable to benefit from surviving spouse tax laws and was assessed with $300,000 in taxes she would otherwise not have had to pay. This case, too, seems to provide a clear example of injustice in enforcement of civil laws.
How the Supreme Court will ultimately rule remains a mystery. They are closely divided on social issues and not necessarily in the forefront of modern thinking.
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