Personally, I'm disappointed that the Court did not choose to take up all 9 cases that sought certiorari on the matter of DOMA. I'm pleased that they chose to take California's Prop 8 case -- and that they did not reach down to grab the recently decided Nevada case. That would have allowed for a major omnibus case like Brown v. Board of Education (which actually was comprised of 5 state cases and a companion from the District of Columbia.
The Supreme Court put itself at the center of the nationís debate over whether gay couples have the same fundamental right to marry as heterosexuals, agreeing Friday to review state and federal efforts to preserve a traditional definition of husband and wife.
In agreeing to hear cases from California and New York, the court raised the possibility of a groundbreaking constitutional decision on whether the right to marry may be limited because of sexual orientation. At the same time, the justices also will have the ability to issue narrower rulings on a subject that continues to divide the American public.
The cases will probably be heard in historic sessions at the court in late March, with decisions to come when the justices finish their work at the end of June.
The courtís first review of same-sex marriage comes at a fast-moving but unsettled time in the nationís consideration of gay rights. Last month brought Election Day victories for same-sex marriage supporters in three states, including Maryland, and the reelection of President Obama, the first chief executive to endorse the right of gays to marry.
But the vast majority of states ban such unions, and 31 of them have amended their constitutions to enshrine the traditional definition of heterosexual marriage.
Personally, I do not believe there is a constitutional right for same sex couples to marry. Similarly, I believe that Congress was within its rights to adopt the rule that states (and the federal government) did not have to recognize them. That is not to say I oppose states choosing to permit such marriages within their borders through the democratic process -- nor do I believe that DOMA was necessarily correct as a matter of public policy (which is not the same thing as being unconstitutional).
There are, of course, many questions regarding what the Court will do. A ruling against DOMA does not necessarily constitute a constitutional ruling in favor of gay marriage. Some good observations on the matter can be found at HuffPo and Volokh Conspiracy. And Bruce at Gay Patriot offers a round-up of commentary from the supporters of gay marriage.