On Tuesday, April 28th, the topic of same sex marriage was debated at the Supreme Court with many people waiting outside with the hope of being allowed in and possibly having their voice heard. This has long been a topic of debate and a topic of great interest for many people. NRP mentioned that same sex marriage is currently legal in 36 states with some people hoping for it to be extended to all 50 states. This is the main issue that was discussed on Tuesday. The question was whether or not the Supreme Court’s ruling would be in favor of same sex marriage in all 50 states or against it with same sex marriage bans being reinstated in many states where they have previously been shot down.
The arguments at the Supreme Court hearing focused on whether or not the bans on same sex marriage is constitutional and if they are whether or not the states with bans may refuse to recognize marriages performed out of state where they are considered legal. The court session was scheduled for a two and a half hour block with Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky there to defend their bans on same sex marriage. These states won their cases in lower courts and the Supreme Court had the task of making the final decision and resolving the conflict.
The focus seemed to be on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy whose vote was crucial and gave gay rights advocates reason to be hopeful based on his argument. Kennedy gave conflicting signals initially but ultimately stated that same sex couples should be allowed to marry, the New York Times mentioned in an article on the hearing. Kennedy, the article added, is also the author of three books that expand the rights of gay Americans. The article went on to say that Kennedy said that he was concerned about changing an idea of marriage that has existed for thousands of years considering that people in this country have such limited experience with same sex marriage and the idea of it. Kennedy added that same sex couples are aware of how sacred marriage is and that they cannot procreate so to speak but they want the opportunity to have the other aspects of marriage and show that they also have a dignity that can be fulfilled.
In terms of the argument over whether the bans on same sex marriage should be lifted or not, Mary L. Bonauto urged the justices to remove the bans. She is a huge advocate for gay and lesbian rights according to the New York Times and added that such bans are inappropriate and make these people feel unworthy and that is wrong. Justice Antonin Scalia agreed with Justice Kennedy about how new same sex marriage is and how people have to adjust their mind set to something they are not used to. Kennedy asked Bonauto if she knew of any society prior to 2001 that permitted a same sex union. Bonauto could not say that she had. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. pointed out that Bonauto was not seeking to join an institution but to change it completely.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer seemed to have his reservations the article went on. Breyer did say that he felt that same sex unions are a basic liberty but felt that it may not be fair for the court to force states that do not agree with same sex marriage to conform to the idea. He pointed out that maybe these states that are in opposition to the idea should see how it goes over in states that allow it first before forcing them into something they are not yet ready for. Justice Scalia put it that a ruling for same sex unions could force members of the clergy to perform wedding ceremonies that they may not be comfortable with and that violate their religious beliefs and that this should be kept in mind. The New Times said that Bonauto felt that this was nonsense and should not be an issue.
The article stated that the overall proceedings were calm for the most part except for a protestor who invading the session and claimed that the whole thing was against God, referring to the idea of same sex marriage. The protestor was taken from the room by security and the justices did not seem bothered by the disturbance the article went on to say. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. argued in support of the same sex couples and how gay and lesbian people are equal to others. The lawyer that was in defense of the bans argued that they were for the benefit of the children and not the same sex couples who are seeking mutual support and companionship.
ABC News pointed out how both sides argued their cases well and with conviction. A final decision has not been made yet and both sides will have to wait until June for an official ruling. The dividing arguments made for and against same sex marriage will definitely have an impact on the final decision of the Supreme Court and it is true that those involved in the hearing made their voices heard as ABC News put it.
By Heather Granruth