Supreme Court debates constitutionality of gay marriage

5:00 AM, Mar 27, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON -- Gay marriage is front and center as the Supreme Court takes on two cases in two days involving the issue.

Tuesday it was about whether gay marriage is unconstitutional. Wednesday's arguments will focus on the benefits for same-sex couples already married.

Protests and passion ran high outside of the court and inside, you could hear some of the justices wondering if the issue was moving too quickly.

Strong passions on both sides, with police forced to keep the two sides apart.

Two gay couples in California are challenging the state's Proposition 8, a ballot issue that stopped same-sex marriage.

"We're no different than anyone else. We deserve the same rights," said one Proposition 8 opponent.

Defenders of Proposition 8 say that since only opposite-sex couples can produce children, it makes sense to limit marriage to them alone.

"It is impossible to know with any certainty the changes that would be worked on society by redefining a fundamental institution like marriage," said a Proposition 8 supporter.

The court's liberal justices were skeptical of that argument.

"Suppose a state said that, because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55. Would that be constitutional?"

However, the court's conservatives were equally skeptical that gay couples should have the right to marry.

"I'm curious: When did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868? When the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted?"

The issue has lit up social media. On Facebook, the symbol of marriage equality, an "equal" sign (=) is an increasingly popular profile image for supporters.

The controversy also has the Supreme Court itself divided.

"You're really asking, particularly because of the sociological evidence you cite, for us to go into uncharted waters." "

I just wonder if -- if the case was properly granted."

It is possible that the court could rule that it should not have taken the case in the first place. In that case, it would actually preserve a lower court ruling that struck down Proposition 8. That would mean same-sex marriage could resume in California.

At the same time, if the Supreme Court doesn't rule either way, there still would not be a nationwide precedent on the issue.


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