The Supreme Court will take up California’s ban on same-sex marriage, a case that could give the justices the chance to rule on whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals.
The justices said Friday they will review a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, though on narrow grounds. The San Francisco-based appeals court said the state could not take away the same-sex marriage right that had been granted by California’s Supreme Court.
The court also will decide whether Congress can deprive legally married gay couples of federal benefits otherwise available to married people. A provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act limits a range of health and pension benefits, as well as favorable tax treatment, to heterosexual couples.
The cases probably will be argued in March, with decisions expected by late June.
Plenty of comment to come, I’m sure. I expect the Court will decide a little more narrowly than anyone wants. If they uphold the ban, it will be a “leave it to the states” type decision, not a striking down of gay marriage. If they strike Prop 8 down, it will probably be on a narrower basis than proclaiming that gays have the absolute right to marry. Given the composition of the Court, I expect a carefully-worded decision on the former with subsequent caterwauling. But, even as a gay marriage supporter, I would be fine with that decision. I think it would be a big mistake to impose marriage equality through judicial fiat. Let the people of California own up to their mistake and unpass Prop 8 when the time comes.