Supreme Court to Hear Prop 8, DOMA Cases

The Supreme Court will determine the scope of same-gender marriage in groundbreaking cases it will hear next year.

Will Prop 8, DOMA Be Struck Down in 2013?The Supreme Court will determine the scope of same-gender marriage in groundbreaking cases it will hear next year.

After weeks of anxious waiting by LGBT-rights advocates, U.S. Supreme Court justices declared that they will weigh in on the growing same-gender marriage debate. The court announced on Friday afternoon that it will hear two cases that have challenged the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 legislation, both of which defined legal marriage as only between a man and a woman.

The outcome of these two major cases could have a sweeping impact on the definition of marriage in the United States and on same-gender couples’ right to wed.

“The nation’s high court has agreed to consider one of the most defining civil-rights issues of our time. … The DOMA and Prop 8 cases present the Supreme Court with a monumental opportunity to affirm our Constitution’s promises of liberty, equality and human dignity,” says Rea Carey, executive director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The announcement follows sweeping changes in public attitudes toward these unions—49 percent of Americans now agree that states should allow same-sex marriage, according to a Pew Research Center poll, compared with 39 percent in 2008.

“The recent election signaled just how far we’ve come on the path toward treating all families fairly, with landmark statewide victories affirming the right of loving, committed same-sex couples to share in the celebration and responsibilities of marriage,” says Carey. “This long road to the high court has been filled with thousands of personal conversations about why marriage matters to us, and of how discrimination hurts our families.”

DOMA: Discrimination Against LGBTs

Legal experts had anticipated that the Defense of Marriage Act would be the most likely to be heard by the Supreme Court. DOMA, which originally was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, was struck down this year by two federal appeals courts: Boston in June and New York in October. The law prevents the government from recognizing any same-sex marriage, even if a state’s law provides for it. Windsor v. United States challenges the law, saying it amounts to discrimination against LGBTs in those states that allow same-gender marriages.

If the Supreme Court agrees with the appeals courts, same-gender couples in states that recognize same-gender marriage would be recognized equally under the law and qualify for federal marriage benefits, tax breaks and Social Security survivor benefits.

What Is Proposition 8?

Proposition 8 is a same-gender marriage ban in California that was voted into law in 2008—just months after the California Supreme Court had struck it down. This left thousands of California same-gender couples legally married while preventing others from doing so. Since then, Proposition 8 has been struck down by two federal courts as unconstitutional.

LGBT: How Many States Recognize Same-Gender Marriage?

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 15.8 percent of Americans now live in states that support marriage equality. If California’s Proposition 8 is struck down, that number will jump to 27.9 percent.

Currently nine states recognize same-gender marriages: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Iowa and Washington, plus the District of Columbia. Rights for same-gender couples are recognized in Oregon, California, Nevada, Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware and Hawaii. For more facts on the LGBT population and states’ laws regarding same-gender marriage, please read our LGBT Pride Facts & Figures.

Many of the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies proactively provide additional benefits and services for same-gender couples, both employees and customers. For example, Wells Fargo (No. 33 in The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity) launched an Accredited Domestic Partner Advisor program, which the company presented at our Innovation Fest!, to specifically help LGBT clients with their unique financial situations. Watch the video below.

All of the companies on the DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees received 100 percent ratings on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. These are among the 38 total DiversityInc Top 50 companies that earned a 100 percent rating.

Also read:

The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees

Ask the White Guy: LGBT Rights Are Human Rights

CEI Index: Twice As Many Top 50 Companies Have 100% Ratings vs. Fortune 500

DOMA Rejected by Federal Court in N.Y.

Same-Gender Financial Crisis? You Must Watch This

Real Diversity Leadership: CEOs of E&Y, AT&T on Boy Scout Gay Ban

President Obama Supports Marriage Equality

Gay-Marriage Ban Struck Down: Why Your Company Should Care

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  • I can’t believe a country who is the leader in the world is moving towards changing our society’s one of the most important institution “Marriage”. Is our Supreme court analyzing the future negative impact LGBT marriages may have on our society.

    We hear lots of buzz words on eating organic food so stay more natural so why the society can’t see in nature “is there LGBT marriage in animals?”

    It is purely un-natural and I am surprised a leading nation in the world encourages this behavior.

    • Luke Visconti

      If you think it’s “un-natural,” then you shouldn’t do it. Stabilizing already existing family structures will have no negative impact on our society; it will have a positive impact—but that is beside the point. Our Constitution is written in a way that assumes people have rights given them by the creator—and that the government only administers certain functions, among them adjudicating disputes about rights. In the course of our history, this has been a path of liberation.

      In this case, the legal privileges inherent in the governmental contract of marriage are what is at stake, not religious values (which are protected under the First Amendment). Therefore, the people opposed to same-gender marriage have to prove that same-gender marriage in some way damages heterosexual marriage in the civil context. In the Proposition 8 case, the people opposed to same-gender marriage could not prove that point—they couldn’t come up with a single expert who had proof.

      Nothing’s changed since then, except more same-gender marriages have been performed in the states that permit them. And guess what? There’s still no proof that same-gender marriages in some way damage heterosexual marriages. I expect the Supreme Court will see things the same way as the judges in California. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

  • Nature is not a good place to look for support for anti-same sex marriage. I have personally observed male dogs mounting male dogs and even a female dog mount a male cat. Since that occurred in nature, that means it is natural. Marriage is a human construct, it is not from nature.

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