The debate in this country over same-sex marriage has ended up in the nation’s highest court. The case before the U.S. Supreme Court challenges Californians’ right to amend their state constitution to exclude same-sex marriages. The Supreme Court’s decision whether to uphold or deny that right would have a nationwide impact on family law.
Many Orange County, California residents have fought to legalize same-sex marriage in their state. The Supreme Court of California had ruled that the state constitution guaranteed same-sex marriage. Then, in 2008, Proposition 8 attempted to revise the constitution to exclude it. With this setback, the fight for same-sex equality reached an impasse that challenges legislators to come up with provisions giving same-sex couples the right to marry.
In arguments presented over the past several weeks, the Supreme Court has been asked to decide whether the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits Californians from amending their state constitution to define marriage as a heterosexual union. Such arguments set the scene for two opposing interests to come into play: the legal rights of same-sex couples and each state’s right to democratic self-governance.
Although dependent on public opinion, a legal compromise that allows same-sex marriage without compromising the right for self-governance would be nice. The California Supreme Court went through the state constitution to guarantee such rights; however, the state’s citizens quickly voted to amend that very constitution to counter the decision through Proposition 8.
As California struggles with this question, LGBT groups seek federal laws that give more recognition, including provisions for child support and spousal support, to same-sex marriages. Unfortunately, as in many cases, creating the law always lags behind the demands of the times.
The debate continues, and both sides continue to struggle to find a middle ground. In the meantime, those encountering same-sex marriage issues should consult a legal professional for advice in this volatile and complicated area of family law.
Source: CornellSun.com, “BARELY LEGAL: Are we headed for a no-win outcome in the Proposition 8 case?” Thomas Curry, April 5, 2013