- Strong quake hits Japan, triggering tsunami
- Sniper heaven: Pentagon’s self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide
- Violent gang taking advantage of immigration crisis, using border as recruiting hub
- Medicaid enrollment continues to soar under Obamacare, administration says
- Michelle Obama to Latinos: ‘We cannot afford to wait on Congress’ for immigration
- White House urges GOP to act ‘urgently’ on $3.7 billion request for illegal immigrants
- Politicians, criminals using ‘right-to-be-forgotten’ law EU courts forced upon Google
- Combat fatigue: elite special forces troops are ‘fraying,’ Gen. Joseph Votel warns
- German foreign minister to meet Kerry to discuss spying claims
- Florida police spokesman tells citizens: ‘Get yourself some firearms’
Gay-marriage questions offer few clues to Supreme Court’s direction
Question of the Day
Despite a lively question-and-answer session for the first of this week’s two historic gay marriage cases, the nine Supreme Court justices on Tuesday offered no clear clues on whether they will back traditional marriage or affirm the right to same-sex unions — or just kick the judicial can down the road.
Tuesday’s case could settle the standoff in California over gay marriage, and the second case, to be argued Wednesday, challenges a federal law that only recognizes marriages of one man and one woman, preventing gay couples from accessing the benefits afforded straight couples.
Taken together, the two cases could permit the nation's highest court to answer important questions about the legality of gay marriage and how sexual orientation should be treated when equal rights are an issue.
Thousands of protesters for and against gay marriage gathered at the Capitol and Supreme Court to make their voices heard.
On Tuesday, in a packed courtroom, the high court heard oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, a case involving the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a voter-passed California initiative that defines marriage as only the unions of one man and one woman.
A key area of inquiry was what would happen if the court struck down Proposition 8.
Would the ruling be limited to legalizing gay marriage in California? justices asked. Or would it also force a few other states that have domestic partnerships or civil unions to convert them to marriage? Or would it become a national ruling, forcing all states to strike down their man-woman marriage laws?
“The problem with the case is that you’re really asking, particularly because of the sociological evidence you cite, for us to go into uncharted waters,” observed Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
Former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, representing two same-sex couples who want to overturn Proposition 8, responded that the high court had ventured into the unknown in 1967 when it struck down laws banning interracial marriage.
Mr. Olson’s answer wasn’t completely satisfying for Justice Kennedy, but he and the other justices moved on, posing a wide range of questions to Mr. Olson; Charles J. Cooper, who represented Dennis Hollingsworth and other supporters of Proposition 8; and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who came as a friend of the court in support of Mr. Olson’s side.
Mr. Cooper was asked about the legal injuries to some 37,000 children being raised by gay couples who cannot marry. “The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?” asked Justice Kennedy.
Mr. Cooper’s answer was that there wasn’t any data on such a subject.
Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer also wanted to know why marriage — as a procreative institution — is not good for gay couples but OK for opposite-sex couples who can’t have children. “Couples that aren’t gay but can’t have children get married all the time,” Justice Breyer said to Mr. Cooper.
“The concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional, procreative purposes,” Mr. Cooper replied. It’s also a concern, he added, to have the age-old institution of marriage refocused “away from the raising of children” to something that meets the “emotional needs and desires of adults.”
Proposition 8, Mr. Olson said, “walls off” marriage from gay and lesbian couples, “labeling their most cherished relationships as second-rate, different, unequal and not OK.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- Denver lawsuit accuses abortion clinic of not reporting rape of 13-year-old
- Fewer abortion clinics in minority communities: study
- Census: More first-time mothers give birth out of wedlock
- Activists sue to block New Hampshire abortion 'buffer zone' law
- Pace of state laws against abortion slows in 2014
Latest Blog Entries
- Gay therapy ban author seeks Calif. House seat
- Transgender 'bathroom law' gets 5,000 more signatures
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
TWT Video Picks
Democrats reveal an identity crisis by pretending to be what they're not
- Pentagon's self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide
- Michelle Obama to Latinos: 'We cannot afford to wait on Congress' for immigration
- TRACCI: Six steps to end the border crisis
- Armed militia sets up Texas command center to 'fight for national sovereignty'
- Obama seeks brisk passage of border children funding bill
- Va. Democrat reportedly seeks nude shots of Kendall Jones
- Florida police spokesman tells citizens: 'Get yourself some firearms'
- Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes
- Bloomberg: Pro-gun towns must lack roads
- PRUDEN: 'Dirty Harry' Reids increasing eccentricity
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq
World Cup's sexiest WAGs