The Marriage Cases: Legal Challenges to Prop 8 and DOMA

The 14th Amendment guarantees liberty and equal protection to every American. Do state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage violate that amendment? Is the federal government’s refusal to recognize a marriage that is legal in a state federal overreach? The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide the answers to these questions by the end of June 2013 in two cases related to same-sex marriage.

Professor Dale Carpenter provides a brief explanation of the two cases before the Court. In 2008, California voters passed Prop 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state. This law is being contested on the grounds that the equality principle is violated because opposite-sex couples have rights that are denied to same-sex couples. It is also contested on the grounds that every American has a fundamental right to marry. A similar case centers on the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996. This law limits federal recognition of same-sex marriages, thereby denying same-sex couples more than a thousand benefits otherwise available under federal law. This means that even when a couple is legally married according to the state, the federal government does not recognize the marriage.

There are many possible outcomes in both cases. In the DOMA case, for example, Prof. Carpenter argues that “there is no legitimate federal interest in denying recognition to validly married same-sex couples.” He has submitted a brief to the Court asking it to strike down DOMA on federalism grounds. But will the justices agree? What do you think about these cases?


  1. connornll


  2. Philip Brenda

    I think a poor tax code has created this problem. If federal taxes followed the simple sales tax only, then nobody would care. Different religions instituted marriage, why then does the government get to regulate this at all.

  3. Carl Andersen

    I think every US State should be under the law of the constitution an respekt indiuvudual rights given bye God. 

  4. citizen1111

    The question is can you coerce individuals in a free society to a particular religious or moral code.  I would argue it is not my place to tell anyone how to live.

  5. Kroskia

    I believe this is also an issue of the fourth amendment establishment clause which guarantees separation of church and state. I feel that unless they provide a valid secular argument against gay marriage then this shouldn’t even be an issue.

  6. beckyythomas

    I believe that everyone should have the right to equal rights, but to an extent. 

  7. taschrant

    I’m with you.  It is not my place to tell anyone how to live.  I just care that how they lives is done at their own expense.  I want everybody in this world to be able to freely pursue happiness and hope they achieve all that they want.

  8. Keith Knight

    That awkward moment when Democrats don’t like a law they are being forced to abide by.

  9. Hunter Markson

    If only the government didn’t tell us who to love

  10. Vinay Cardwell

    This is a tough one as same sex marriages are infringing on the procreation aspects of religious institutions that grant marriages but who is to say who should have a legal right to love someone. So why aren’t there just Civil Unions instead for same sex marriages? That would keep the religious issue at bay and offer an option for same sex to have benefits and of marriage.

Leave a Reply