Supreme Court takes on same-sex marriage ban |

Supreme Court takes on same-sex marriage ban

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to analyze the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, both of which denied rights to same-sex marriages equal to those of heterosexual couples.

“We think this is a very good thing because it brings it to the court to interpret the Constitution,” said Jim Richards, Nevada co-chair of Marriage Equality California.

The Defense of Marriage Act contends that marriage is defined to be between a man and a woman only and prevents same-sex couples from enjoying the 1,100 federal benefits of which heterosexual couples take advantage, including Social Security benefits and right to visitation during a hospital stay.

“I am ever hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will concur with the judgment of Judge Vaughn Walker that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional and that all Americans are created equal and are endowed with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” state Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said in a statement.

“While due legal process continues, let’s not forget those Californians who remain unable to pursue happiness by marrying the partner of their choice. It is a fundamental freedom that many of us take for granted.”

Proposition 8 was passed by 52 percent of California in 2008, adding an amendment to the California Constitution that marriage is between a man and a woman only.

Nevada County approved Proposition 8 by a mere three votes with 27,617 who voted yes and 27,614 who voted no.

After the 2012 election, nine states, including the District of Columbia, allow same-sex marriages.

Thirty-one state constitutions continue to ban same-sex marriage, which would be broken if the Supreme Court chooses to deem a ban unconstitutional.

“Keep in mind: if the Supreme Court decides on the California Prop 8 case and says that it’s unconstitutional for a state to pass a law prohibiting a minority group from enjoying the same as a majority as in the Prop 8 case, it would then apply to all 49 (other) states and would make all states that passed laws against same-sex marriage unconstitutional,” Richards said.

How narrow or broad the court will choose to go on the issue is something that will be awaited with the decision expected to be made by June.

“It could be very technical or very broad. Nobody knows what the court will do,” Richards said. “Either late spring or early summer the court will make its decision, so we’re going to argue our cases before the court when they come up to be heard.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call (530) 477-4230.

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