Here’s what to expect on April 28, when the Supreme Court hears oral argument on marriage equality. First, the justices are only asking two questions: does the Constitution require states to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples; and are states required to honor marriage licenses from other states?
Mary Bonauto will argue question one, and Doug Hallward-Driemeir question two. They both got 30 minutes apiece. The states defending their ban will get 45 minutes for question 1 and 30 minutes for question 2. The Soliciter General will get 15 minutes to argue on behalf of the government. So it’ll all be over pretty quick. Then comes several weeks of waiting and speculating, with a ruling probably at the end of June.
The National Organization for Marriage will not be arguing in court, but they did submit a brief last week. They’re claiming that public opinion is still closely divided on marriage equality. That is not even remotely true. Dozens of national surveys show a pretty clear trend. NOM does cite two surveys that show a majority oppose the freedom to marry. But guess who paid for those surveys? The National Organization for Marriage. What a coincidence.
Also, it’s worth pointing out — even if it was true that support was declining, that doesn’t matter. NOM devoted a big chunk of their brief to arguing about opinion polls. But public opinion has nothing to do with either of the two questions the Supreme Court asked. So, good job, NOM.
Also this week, the 8th circuit committed to hearing cases from Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota on May 12. Two former magistrates in North Carolina have sued for the right to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples. And a lesbian couple in Guam has sued after being denied a marriage license. Guam is part of the US and covered by the Ninth Circuit, which overturned marriage bans several months ago. So hopefully this will be an easy one to clear up.