Last week, the Department of Justice filed a "friend of the court" brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, a case it is expected to hear at the end of this month. Proposition 8 is a 2008 California voter initiative that prohibited same sex marriage in the California state constitution. Though the Department of Justice brief stopped short of full-on endorsing nation-wide legalization of same sex marriage, it does come as part of a larger trend of an Obama administration push for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer rights. "The same evolution that I've gone through is an evolution that the country as a whole has gone through, and I think it is a profoundly positive thing," the president said at a press conference Friday, referring to his announcement last year that he supported same sex marriage.
He later added, "Whenever a particular group is being discriminated against, the court asks the question, 'What's the rational for this?' And it better be a good reason. And if you don't have a good reason, we're going to strike it down."
Critics of Proposition 8 say it defies the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution's 14th Amendment, which says no state shall deny "any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." In the plaintiffs' opening brief, defenders of the law say that California voters have the right to "preserve the traditional definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman." They say that laws defining marriage have "always been understood to be the virtually exclusive province of the States."
If Proposition 8 is overturned, it could have ramifications for the number of other state laws across the country that limit marriage to being between a man and a woman.
Should the Supreme Court overturn Proposition 8? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Gregory T. Angelo Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans
Evan Wolfson Founder and President of Freedom to Marry
Adam Umhoefer Executive Director at the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
Stacey Long Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Ilya Shapiro Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute
John C. Eastman Chairman of the Board of the National Organization for Marriage