<<10:15am: Oral arguments have started. C-SPAN3 is covering events outside. 10:35: SCOTUS is now blogging. 12:35 Oral arguments have ended. There is a lively discussion still on the SCOTUS blog and audio recordings at Lamda.>>
Any moment now the U. S. Supreme Court will start hearing the marriage equality case (Obergefell v. Hodges) which challenges the ban on same-sex marriage in four states. There will be live blogs from Lamda Legal here, and from SCOTUS blog here. The ramifications are expected to extend throughout our country sealing the right nationally for gay and lesbian couples to join in matrimony. While the outcome is widely anticipated to be positive, the exact specifics of the court’s ruling are subject to variation. If you are following the hearing, pay close attention to Justice Anthony Kennedy as he has written the opinion on the last three marriage cases and holds a pivotal role in close rulings.
As the NY Times points out, “When the Supreme Court agreed to hear these challenges it took the unusual step of drafting two questions for the parties to address. The first is whether states must allow same-sex couples to marry. The second is whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.”
The hope is to win on both questions. While the Solicitor General in his brief argues solely on equal protection principles, gay rights advocates will also argue that marriage is a fundamental constitutional liberty. The more decisive the ruling is, the more likely it will quell efforts at the state or local level to use “States Rights” arguments to impose impediments.
New Jersey is in the fortunate position of already allowing same-sex couples to marry, and our state recognizes such marriages performed elsewhere. State law also protects private and public sector employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, gay men and lesbians may adopt children here.
In NJ’s post-marriage environment, Garden State Equality now is working to create safe space for youth, make sure transgender people have improved access to health care and birth certificates that match their gender identity, improve lives of homeless LGBT people, protect seniors, and strengthen anti-discrimination enforcement. Read GSE’s Andy Bowen post here.