Supreme Court To Hear Gay Marriage Cases

The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would accept two cases challenging state and federal laws that define marriage to include only unions of a man and a woman.

One of the cases, from California, was filed in 2009 by NAFUSA member Theodore B. Olson, shown right, former solicitor general of the United States, and David Boies. After a lengthy trial, a federal district judge ruled in favor of the plaintifffs, holding that the Constitution required the state of California to allow same-sex couples to marry, despite an effort by California voters to override a decision by the state’s Supreme Court. A divided panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision.

The second case involves an appeal from the Second Circuit which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as between only a man and a woman for the purposes of federal laws and programs. In February 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Department would no longer defend the statute in court. House Republicans intervened and retained Paul D. Clement, another former solicitor general to defend the law

As Adam Liptak, who spoke at NAFUSA’s New York conference in 2010, writes in this morning’s New York Times:

The court’s docket is now crowded with cases about the meaning of equality, with the new cases joining ones on affirmative action in higher education and on the future of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Decisions in all of the cases are expected by June.