The Supreme Court Wednesday struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that the government can no longer deny federal benefits to legally-married same-sex couples. It also ruled on California's Proposition 8, declaring that the law's proponents didn't have legal standing to appeal a lower court overruling the ban, effectively allowing gay marriage once again in California.
The blogosphere reacts to the pair of decisions and what they both mean for the future of gay marriage in the United States:
Writing at the American Conservative, Daniel McCarthy said the repeal of DOMA will leave the overall question of the legality of same-sex marriage to the states:
In sum, the Supreme Court has advanced same-sex marriage in a gradualist manner that basically tracks public opinion, which is also moving in that direction, the relative popularity of DOMA itself notwithstanding. With same-sex marriages now set to resume in California, about 30 percent of Americans live in states where SSM is legal. Gay marriage isn't a change that's coming in the future, depending on how battles in the courts and at the ballot box turn out. It's a fait accompli. The bigger question isn't whether more states will recognize same-sex marriage—let alone whether there's much possibility of rollback—but on what the terms of victory of the SSM side is going to be consolidated. Conservatives have a different battle to fight, psychologically as well as legally, to preserve religious liberty and ensure that this revolution already made doesn't enter a more radical phase. High-strung right-wingers who say, for example,that the country might as well embrace polygamy if it's going to have same-sex marriage are not doing themselves any favors. More seriously, this would be a good time for conservatives to take supporters of SSM at their word and insist on stronger cultural as well as legal affirmations of monogamy for everyone.
James Joyner of Outside the Beltway said the language of the opinion made the decision more sweeping than expected:
Justice Kennedy's opinion in Windsor is far more sweeping than I would have predicted. I was expecting DOMA to be struck down on the basis on that it's a state issue and that the Full Faith and Credit Clause trumped any statute. That would not only have been largely uncontroversial but have had no practical impact, since the Obama administration isn't enforcing the law anyway.
Instead, the five justices in the majority have made sexual orientation a full-fledged protected class under the 5th (and presumably 14th) Amendment. That is indeed truly historic.
Ed Morrissey of Hot Air said the ruling in Prop 8 is more troublesome than that of DOMA:
The voters in California amended the state constitution by referendum legally, to define a legitimate government policy regarding the recognition of marriage. The court is making the case that this is a matter for California to settle, not the federal courts, and there is a very good case to make there. However, the effect of this is to overturn an election whose legality was never in doubt just because some people didn't like the outcome. That to me is a more dangerous outcome than a precedent-setting decision on standing.
Tony Campbell of The Moderate Voice said that, as a social conservative, the court's decision on DOMA goes against his support of traditional marriage, but he still believed the decision was the right one:
Within the boundaries of our political liberty as a sovereign nation resides the individual freedom of the citizen. The first ten amendments to the document expresses the freedoms of citizens and the limitations of government. Basically, as long as the freedom of one individual does not encroach on the freedom of any other citizen, a citizen within the boundaries of our shared liberty can act as he or she chooses. Individual freedom and responsibility are core ideals of the Republican party and Conservatism. For the record, I am against same sex marriages (for reasons of personal belief). That being said, I believe that to ask the government to limit the freedom of the individual is misguided and has caused our party to be marginalized as bigots, homophobes and insensitive.
To use government to manipulate individual behavior on social issues is no different than when liberals use government programs to create and maintain a dependent class of people. When the left uses these programs to help people, in reality, they are limiting individual freedom by replacing the drive to succeed with the complacency of necessity.
We, as conservatives, has an obligation to advance individual freedom – in whatever form it takes within a society based upon liberty. It is more important for those ideals to be championed when the freedom in question goes against our personal beliefs.