How will the Supreme Court rule on gay marriage?

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its rulings on gay marriage this week. There are two cases before the court: one on California’s ban on gay marriage (a.k.a., Proposition 8) and another on the Defense of Marriage Act (a.k.a. DOMA). The question that everyone wants answered is “How will the court rule?”

The issues are complex, and there are a variety of possible outcomes. If you want to have a grasp on what might happen this week, I highly recommend that you check out The New York Times infographic “How the Court Could Rule on Same-Sex Marriage.”

The long and short of it is this. The Court will either uphold Proposition 8 and DOMA, or it will take an action that has the effect of repealing all or part of each. Predictions are precarious at this point, but I think that the latter is the most likely. If so, then the question remains whether the justices will issue a broad ruling or a narrow one. Will they rule in such a way that redefines marriage for the entire country? Or will they rule such that only California is affected by the changes?

My hunch is that the Court will not wish to repeat the mistake of Roe v. Wade, which imposed a controversial solution on all the states. So the court will likely issue a narrow ruling. That means that at the very least, gay marriage will become legal in California and possibly a handful of other states.

I could be wrong about all of this. Time will tell. Sources say we may find out as early as Wednesday. Stay tuned.


  • Ian Shaw

    Their ruling will no doubt be the catalyst for lawsuits against states that currently have a ban on homosexual marriage. This is just the first of many more litigious acts.

    Somewhere in Corinth, the townspeople are laughing at us…

  • Chris Ryan

    Given the “Full Faith and Credit” clause of the Constitution I don’t think there’s any legitimate way that SCOTUS could uphold DOMA. Gays who marry have the same responsibilities and rights as heterosexuals who marry, and that means that DOMA unconstitutionally discriminates. Its about time that we let gays fully participate in civil society. No one deserves to be discriminated against.

  • Brett Cody

    We are aware of your schtick. I want my children to grow up in a society without homosexual marriage. What entitles homosexuals to discrimiate against me?

    • Lauren Betrand

      You’ve opened yourself up for another attack with the usual analogy–“replace ‘homosexual’ with ‘interracial’ and you have the same dichotomy most people’s grandparents used 40 years ago!”

      Most Evangelicals hate this analogy since they continue to firmly believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, so let’s try another one. Personally, I’d love to live in a society without obese people and cigarette smokers. They’re both unambiguous lifestyle choices that repulse me, and public health crises as well. While we have seriously restricted the settings where smoking is allowed, we have done the opposite with obesity–accommodating it more than ever through extra-large gurneys and airplane seats, or scooters at Wal-Mart. Nine times out of 10 the disabled seats at movie theaters go to obese people.

      Because my libertarian principles get the best of me, I accept the fact that I society will discriminate against my low tolerance for obesity and that, by many metrics, it isn’t even about the “tyranny of the majority”. Cigarette laws are getting passed because the public will has changed (in some regions more strongly than others). The free market supports a billion methods for quitting the habit. At the same time, the free market supports gluttony more than ever, and all the legislation in the world isn’t going to change that. I have to bite my lip and make the most of the world around me. I suggest you do the same.

      Chances are the “laboratories of democracy” will remain strong after the SCOTUS ruling this week, and you will probably get to remain in a Bible Belt state that won’t have gay marriage for many years to come. If I’m wrong and the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage across the land, well, then I take you back to paragraph one, when a court ruling did the same thing for interracial marriage, at a time when it was FAR less popular than gay marriage is today.

        • Lauren Betrand

          Equating inclination with identity? So does all of America. We do it when we defend smokers and obese people, just as we condone smoking and overeating, even though they could–with strength of will–stop smoking or overeating. But we don’t force them to become non-smokers or thin in order to grant them access to basic goods and services.

          Christians conflate these two entities as well, but they could just as easily choose not to be Christian as, apparently, you think that gays could choose to stop having same-sex attraction. However, I would completely respect that Christianity is a part of their identity.

          The lines are nearly always blurry. So where do we draw the line with sexuality? Do you identify as straight or are you simply opposite-sex inclined but could change that if you were under threat of death? Are people who are inclined to write with their left hands going to be impelled to identify as left-handed people? Absolutely.

    • Chris Ryan

      Brett–How do homosexuals discriminate against you? To discriminate means that they are keeping you from doing something you’re entitled to. Have gay couples kept you from buying a house? Have gay couples kept you from staying in a hotel room? Have gay couples kept you from eating at your favorite restaurant? Have gay couples kept you from getting promoted? Those are all examples of discrimination & if you’ve been discriminated against I sincerely regret it. No one should ever be discriminated against, whether they’re black, brown, or white; or straight, gay or bi.

      • buddyglass

        My views probably run closer to yours than to Brett’s, but c’mon now. Aren’t you being a little bit obtuse here?

        From Brett’s point of view, gay-friendly legislation discriminates against (certain) Christians by forcing them to become participants in rites they regard as anathema to God, e.g. same-sex weddings.

        There’s always going to be a tension between “freedom of conscience” and laws that dictate how business owners can conduct their business. And that’s in no way a new thing. Presumably there were some bakers fifty years ago who felt it would violate their conscience to provide a cake for an interracial wedding. We decided, at the time, that their freedom of conscience (in that instance) wasn’t important enough to preserve.

        Restrictions on “freedom of religion” aren’t always even controversial. For instance, our current legal environment heavily impedes my ability to engage in proper worship of Baal by way of offering ritual human sacrifice. I’m pretty sure we’re all okay with that.

  • Ian Shaw


    “No one deserves to be discriminated against.” What about the Christian florists or bakers that are being sued? Instead of going elsewhere, they are being singled out due to their beliefs (discrimination, isn’t it)

    An 8th grader in a debate club could identify this as the start to a slippery slope end game.

    I would love you to enlighten me as to what responsibilities homosexual couples have that heterosexual married couples have as well. No sarcasm, just curious.

    • Chris Ryan

      Ian–I tend to think that bakers shouldn’t be forced to cater gay weddings. That said, I’ve seen thoughtful comments on this blog that make me question my belief. For instance, I *think* it was buddyglass who asked, “Should bakers be able to discriminate against interracial weddings?”

      As to the slippery slope argument: Life is a slippery slope. Step outside & anything might happen. I might cross the street & get hit by a bus. I might get in the car & die in a wreck. For there to be actual harm, there must be actual harm. Saying I might get hit by a bus can’t prevent me from going to work.

      In terms of the responsibilities of gay couples, well they have the responsibility to pay their taxes; to be good neighbors; to be good family members; to support the community; and to lovingly nurture their children… Same as hetero couples.

  • Ian Shaw


    Sadly, Christian views in America will become classified as hate speech or “harming public discourse” That other article on here laid it out perfectly. Freedom of religion will be to worship only. You open your mouth and you’ll be fined or thrown in jail. You can’t attempt to create a harmonious utopia/PC society (which is occuring before our eyes and we don’t see it) and not expect those that claim an absolute moral authority to be collateral damage.

    Honestly, I think the government’s next step is to strip church’s tax-exempt status. Which I guess wouldn’t bother me so much because then the church could say “ok, tax us if you will, but if you don’t like our message you can go sit on it”.

    Again, Corinth-here we come.

    • Chris Ryan

      I wouldn’t worry abt churches losing their tax exempt status. Each year a large number of (mostly) Evangelical churches tries to tempt the IRS by intentionally preaching sermons which theoretically run afoul of the law–eg, by endorsing a specific political candidate (which they did last year). Its called Pulpit Freedom Sunday and it was June 9th this year. The IRS just as studiously ignores the churches. Reportedly 1,100 churches in all 50 states participated this year–and the topic this year was gay marriage. We’ll learn if that slippery slope exists soon.

      I think the most legitimate “threat” that Christians face will be in the workplace, honestly, not the pulpit. Many Christians evangelize at work and to avoid workplace discrimination suits, Christians will have to be more mindful of how we evangelize. But, honestly, I don’t even see those laws as preventing our effective witness. If we follow Christ’s example & encourage people toward the Word we should have no problem.

      The other issue is that Christian businesspeople may find that they have less freedom to discriminate against gays than they used to. But in this country, commercial entities have always received far less 1st Amendment protection than individuals and churches. But this is as it should be. For good reason Catholic hospitals have to accept Buddhists, Muslims, and Atheists in its ER. Further, they can’t deny treatment on the basis of race or religion. Neither can grocery stores or hotels–or Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Holy Cross; again, for good reason. So, if this is what is meant by slippery slope, then indeed you’re correct. But stopping businesses from discriminating does not encumber the Gospel.

  • Chris Ryan

    In all honesty, I think this fear that the gov’t will prevent clergy from preaching the Gospel is overblown based on Europe’s and Canada’s Hate Speech Laws. Few countries in the world have a First Amendment comparable to ours & fewer still have one as strong as ours. Britain has no Constitutional Freedom of Speech whatsoever, to its detriment. Our 1st Amendment will protect churches.

    Since 1967 interracial marriage has been legal, and since 1964 racial discrimination has been illegal. Yet just last summer a predominantly white church in Mississippi refused to marry a couple simply b/cs they were black. Even the pastor was offended, but he was outvoted by his Board of Trustees. Did you see Obama run in w/ the FBI to cart the Deacon Board off to jail? Did you see Eric Holder rush in to sue them? No. You saw Anderson Cooper talk about it on CNN & the mortified couple go down the street to another church ( http://jacksonville.com/news/national/2012-07-30/story/mississippi-couple-say-church-wont-marry-them-because-theyre-black ).

    So, while this argument would carry weight in, say, Germany (very strong hate speech laws), it doesn’t reflect American Constitutional jurisprudence.

  • Ian Shaw

    The comparison to interracial marriage is one that I won’t (or yet to be given enough evident to sway my opinion on it) buy into. For some reason, I always thought historically, the reason why interracial marriages were banned was not on the basis of the husband/wife, but for the interest of the offspring. Compared to something that most Christians believe is a behaviorial choice. Again, if the government is forcing me to do something that completely violates my conscience/belifes, it’s a direct violation of the First Amendment. I want a Porsche, but I’m 6’4″. There’s no head room for me. Am I being discriminated against a trait I have that I cannot change, or should I find a different car to better accomondate me? That’s my argument regarding the lawsuits.

    I’ve been in mainstream protestant churches my entire life (including my present SBC one) and I’ve never heard a message regarding supporting a specific political candidate or party. The message around election time has always been, no matter what happens, God is still in control.

    While I agree that witnessing should be done in a loving, encouraging manner to seek Christ, join me at church, etc., the majority of people I know, don’t do it in a “cram it down your throat manner”. The issue I have is, if I causually invite a work colleague to church, or in a conversation with someone going through a rough time in life, I mention how much Christ has done for me, that can be defined (depending what way the wind is blowing within courts) as hate speech. Am I giving the whole hellfire and brimstone schtick? No, but, even if it is done in a loving way, someone might view it as “you’re trying to push your beliefs on me”, even if it’s truly not. Will it change my witness, no. Is it wrong to legislate sharing faith with someone as hate speech? Yes.

    • buddyglass

      “I always thought historically, the reason why interracial marriages were banned was not on the basis of the husband/wife, but for the interest of the offspring.”

      Maybe some supporters of the bans had that as their motivation, but it doesn’t seem to have been the majority one. Here’s what Leon Bazile, the original trial judge in Loving v. Virginia, wrote in defense of his decision:

      Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay, and red, and placed them on separate continents, and but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend the races to mix.

      For Bazile, at least, it seems to have been very much a religious issue.

  • Jesse Lott

    God is on His throne. He is in control. He’s going to have the final word. And in the end He is going to put His glory on display. All will know He and He alone is God and His truth is truth alone. That day is sure, and that day is closer than many may think. My prayer is, “Come Lord Jesus.”

  • Ian Shaw

    Lauren-“But we don’t force them to become non-smokers or thin in order to grant them access to basic goods and services.”

    This is beginning to happen by employers screening candidates for alcohol or tobacco and being terms of their employment. So yes, it is a ‘gun to the head’ mentality.

    “Christians conflate these two entities as well, but they could just as easily choose not to be Christian as,… However, I would completely respect that Christianity is a part of their identity.”

    One could say that once someone decides to live for Christ, their identity is set. Their inclinations are a result of their Christian identity, not having seperation between an identity of their own outside of Christ.

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