By Karen Alter |
The Supreme Court recently announced that it would be hearing two cases involving same sex marriage, both of which have implications for states' rights to recognize same sex marriage. The high court will examine the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law which says that states that prohibit same sex marriages do not have to recognize the same sex marriages of the states (there are currently nine plus the District of Columbia) where it is legal. It also says the federal government does not recognize same sex marriages, blocking same sex spouses from receiving the numerous federal benefits their heterosexual counterparts are eligible for.
The court will also weigh in on Proposition 8, California's voter-passed state referendum that overturned the judicial ruling making same-sex legal in California.
How the court decides both cases could be watershed moments for gay rights activists; the decisions will almost certainly effect what role states can play in recognizing same sex marriage. Some, including President Obama, say states and states alone should decide whether same sex marriage is legal within their borders. Others, including many activists on both sides of the same sex marriage issue, say the federal government must have the final word on same sex marriage.
Should same sex marriage be left to the states? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Ian Millhiser Policy Analyst with the Center for American Progress
Evan Wolfson Founder and President of Freedom to Marry
Stacey Long Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Jason Kuznicki Research Fellow at the Cato Institute
Brian Brown President of the National Organization for Marriage