Today the justices of the Supreme Court are expected to decide whether or not they will hear one of several cases involving marriage equality that have landed on their doorstep.
Though they may make the call today, the Supremes’ decision isn’t expected to be announced until Monday or possibly later.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t game the odds before then.
Many are banking on the justices addressing Proposition 8 in an appeal of Perry v. Brown (now known as Hollingsworth v. Perry). It’s become a banner cause for the LGBT community and a lighting rod in the struggle for equality. But even David Boies and Ted Olson, who litigated Perry v. Brown, don’t want SCOTUS to take up the case.
If the judges pass on it, the 9th Circuit ruling stands and Prop 8 falls into history’s dustbin. But if they take the case and rule in favor of Prop 8 supporters, we’re screwed.
Sure, we’d miss out on an important symbolic victory if the justices turned down a Prop 8 appeal, but thousands of gay and lesbian couples in California could finally be legally wed.
Then there are the cases addressing aspects of the Defense of Marriage Act, which supersedes any given state’s marriage-equality laws. You might be legally wed in Iowa, but good luck filing your federal taxes jointly.
There’s good reason for the Supremes to take up DOMA, not the least of which is if they rule it’s unconstitutional, Prop 8 would be be too, anyway.
Some of the cases before the court, like Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, and Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, address the inequity facing LGBT government employees who are legally married in their home states but can’t receive partner benefits from the federal government.
Windsor v. the United States, on the other hand, focuses on 83-year-old widow Edie Windsor, who had to shell out more than $300,000 in estate taxes when her wife died. She wouldn’t have had to face that burden if they were husband and wife—even though they tied the knot in marriage-equality New York.
Its not difficult to divine which path President Obama wants the Supreme Court to take: He’s stopped defending DOMA in court but, though he personally supports marriage equality, he maintains its a state’s right to decide. And the Solicitor General’s office has asked the court to hear this case if the Court does not take the Gill, Golinski, or Pedersen cases.
Letting people who live in marriage-equality states get what’s coming to them seems like an easier road to travel than wrestling with “the will of the people” of California. But you never know what’s going on in the minds of the Nine.
Which hand do you think the court will play?