On March 26 and 27, the Supreme Court hears arguments on cases banning same-sex marriage. The hearings have become a flashpoint for opposing social movements, whose members clashed outside the Court this morning in a highly charged atmosphere. John Zangas of DC Media Group live-tweeted the events.
The District, however, didn’t greet visitors with beautiful spring cherry blossoms. Instead, Supreme Court watchers got here just in time for the first snow accumulation in two years.
Shivering and soggy at the base of the Supreme Court’s steps, they nonetheless queued up for tickets to hearings challenging Prop 8, a ballot initiative passed in California, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law.
Several, mostly opponents of Prop 8 and DOMA, are still keeping vigil Monday night in a cold rain. Tents line the sidewalk along 1st Street.
Thousands are expected by Tuesday morning to advocate for their position on gay marriage. For proponents of marriage equality, banishing the Defense of Marriage Act would mean that couples legally married in states permitting same-sex marriage would receive a myriad of federal benefits now denied to them. They also hope that the Court will uphold a federal circuit court’s ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.
Whether the Court decides to apply the equal protection clause could determine the extent to which the cases are far-reaching in scope.
They face hurdles of “standing” in the Court. The cases are unusual in that both the state of California (in the case of Prop 8) and the Obama administration (in the case of DOMA) declined to defend the statutes. It may be unprecedented that members of the Congressional House–and not the Department of Justice–will attempt to defend a federal law at the Supreme Court.
The Court will most likely not hand down rulings on the cases until late June.