DOMA and Prop 8 headed to the Supreme Court

DOMA and Supreme Court
Image © Meryl Schenker Photography

News outlets are brimming with marriage-equality stories lately, in part because the Supreme Court announced Friday that it will be hearing two cases related to marriage equality. Both cases will be decided sometime before June 2013.

The first concerns California Proposition 8, which prohibits same-sex marriage. It was voted into law in 2004, overturning a state Supreme Court decision that had legalized same-sex marriage for a few rainbow-splattered months. Theodore B. Olson and David Boies (who apparently argued different sides of Bush v. Gore in 2000) brought the suit, saying that Prop 8 violates the federal constitution. Depending on how they approach the case, the Supreme Court’s decision could be limited to California or have broader implications for state bans on same-sex marriage.

The second concerns the ever-more-ironically-named Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is being challenged by Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old badass who is suing the federal government over a $363,000 estate tax bill that came in the mail when her partner died. Windsor and her partner, Thea Spyer, got engaged in 1967 and were legally married 40 years later (if you need a good tear-jerking, check out the documentary Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement, or even just the trailer). Now Windsor says she “just wants to be alive when she wins,” which she’s worried about because her heart is “lousy.” Oh, Edie, we’d beg to differ. (See Jen’s more in-depth look at the cases here.)

Meanwhile, in Washington state, where same-sex marriage was legalized by referendum in November, Friday was the first day that same-sex couples could get marriage licenses, and they totally went for it. The courthouse in downtown Seattle handed out more than twice their previous record for marriage licenses issued in one day, according to the Seattle Times.  This serves as further evidence for the theory (hatched just moments ago by your faithful correspondent) that all this conservative kerfuffle about “protecting marriage” is really just about keeping the lines short at the courthouse.

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