US Supreme Court to hear landmark gay marriage cases

US Supreme Court buildingThe US Supreme Court will consider two landmark gay marriage cases this week in back-to-back hearings.

Today (Tuesday 26 March) the justices will consider Proposition 8, a California constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions. The proposition was approved by the state’s voters in a 2008 referendum but later rescinded in 2010, when it was declared to be in breach of the US constitution.

A number of public figures have spoken out opposing Proposition 8, including actors Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt, plus US sports stars Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Rashad Evans.

The Obama administration is not party to the case but has filed what is known as an  amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefing, asking the court to strike down the proposition.

On Wednesday the court will review the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This federal law defines marriage as between a man and a woman, thereby preventing gay couples from enjoying the same federal benefits and tax breaks that heterosexual couples receive.

Former President Bill Clinton who signed the act into law has recently called for it to be overturned, calling it unconstitutional.

The court is expected to rule on both cases by the end of June.

Long queues have formed outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC, as people try to secure a seat for the hearings, according to the BBC.


Photo of the US Supreme Court building by Rob Crawley via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

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