What We Know So Far
- The Supreme Court is taking up the cases of same-sex couples, some of their children, and two widowers from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, arguments began at 10 a.m. Tuesday
- The proceeding will determine two things, whether the 14th Amendment requires states to permit same-sex marriage and if states that do not permit same-sex marriage must recognize those unions from other states.
- Dozens of people started lining up outside of the Supreme Court four days ago, hoping to get a seat to hear Tuesday's arguments.
- Same-sex couples are able to marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
- White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett toasted the plaintiffs and lawyers Monday night at a Freedom to Marry reception.
- Texas lawmakers in Austin were advancing a bill ahead of the decision that would prohibit the Lone Star state from using state or local funds to license or recognize same-sex marriage.
Michael Roberts, 81, is straight and married. His wife Paulette Roberts officiated the wedding ceremony for Jim Obergefell and John Arthur on a medical jet in Baltimore on July 11, 2013.
At Tuesday's marriage arguments over same-sex couples' marriage rights, the majority of the court appeared to be comfortable with Justice Anthony Kennedy's understanding of human dignity as including gay people's equal treatment under the law.
While Kennedy, who is considered the key swing vote in the case, did not make any unambiguous statement about the end result of the case, he harshly questioned the state of Michigan's argument that it should be allowed to exclude same-sex couples from marriage.
At one point, Kennedy commented to Michigan's lawyer that it's law banning same-sex couples from marrying "assumes" that those couple's can't have the same "more noble purpose" as opposite sex couples have for entering marriage. Joined often by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, the lawyer defending marriage bans, John Bursch, faced repeated questions about what other limits state's could constitutionally place on marriages and whether the state's claimed interest amounted to anything more than, as Sotomayor asked, a "ceiling…that doesn't have logic."
Although questions were asked, including by Kennedy, about the length of the understanding of marriage as only an institution between one man and one woman, Kennedy also noted that "about the same time" passed between the Supreme Court's decision ending "separate-but-equal" with regards to racial discrimination and it's landmark decision ending interracial marriage as has passed between the Supreme Court's decision ending sodomy laws and today's arguments.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer also appeared in questioning to be sympathetic same-sex couples' marriage arguments.
Chief Justice John Roberts asked probing question of both sides, never betraying a strong affinity towards either sides' arguments.