News & Politics

Upcoming SCOTUS Rulings Clarified For You With the lack of any SCOTUS opinion yesterday morning, we’re left to Monday or Thursday of next week for the landmark decisions in the marriage equality cases (N has some great time-killing ideas for you, including my favorite, pin the pride sticker on the justice). Opinions are announced at 10am Eastern, so that’s our next window.  I’m planning to get a good night’s sleep on Sunday so’s to be ready to freak out bright and early Monday morning, Pacific time.

SSM-NY-graphic2Those who are riveted by the cases but lacking legal know-how (as I am) are in need of a good infographic. The New Yorker has produced a boffo interactive one (you need to have your Java Script all up-to-date; I had to pop into Firefox from Safari to be able to actually interact with this one).  You may select either of the two DOMA options:

  • struck down or
  • upheld/case dismissed)

and the combine with either of the four possible Prop 8 rulings:

  • struck down, broad ruling
  • struck down, “seven-state scenario”
  • case dismissed on standing
  • upheld

Each combination of possible outcomes lights up the map accordingly and is accompanied by a concise overview. What’s just stunning is that there is one scenario, admittedly a long shot (DOMA is struck down; Prop 8 is struck down and with a broad ruling finding that any and all marriage bans, like this one, are patently unconstitutional) which could actually bring federally recognized marriage equality to every state of the union.

Those interested in a little more detail on the Prop 8 case will like the infographic below from AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights brought the Prop 8 challenge to the courts).  They have a fantastic “Decision Central” web page that’s a smartly designed one-stop info shop.  The Prop 8 decision itself could affect just California, or California and a handful of other marriage equality states, or the whole dadgum US of A, including all the remaining states still living in the dark ages of marriage and family inequality.

Even since the justices first heard arguments in this case, we have seen a clump of states moving forward on the issue. And the most recent, reputable national poll of attitudes regarding same-sex marriage (by Pew, here) shows that those supporting equality have decicively moved into the majority.

So no matter whether SCOTUS gives us benediction or another wait, the truth is it’s a brave new world out there.



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  1. What I’m curious to see, though, and what they don’t get into in the infographic (how could they in such little space?) is what happens in re: the FF&C Clause, in the (to me, most likely) scenarios where DOMA is knocked down, but a Prop 8 decision means that just [x] number of states will have SSM.

    Because that’s the real crux of the issue, and one of the big reasons, iirc, that DOMA was enacted – that other states didn’t want to have to recognize [Hawaii, etc]’s rulings on domestic partnerships and/or marriage.

  2. Yeah: the most conservative, yet positive outcome I can picture–DOMA struck down, Prop 8 dismissed “on standing,” since it does seem a stretch that the private group defending it didn’t make the case that they were personally harmed, and the state’s not stepping in to defend seemed huge–just leaves it that residents in the twelve states with marriage equality don’t have to file three separate tax returns (one state & two federal), and receive the federal benefits & recognition.

    You make a good, key point that it’s the Full Faith and Credit Clause that spooked bigots on the mainland to galvanize into action when Hawaii came so close to recognizing same sex marriage waaaaay back when, in 1998.

    After trying to find some commentary on this (an article by Jay Michaelson at The Daily Beast, “An Often-Overlooked Clause in the Cnstitution Points the Way to SAme-Sex Marriage,” and one by Noah Feldman in Bloomberg, “On Gay Marriage, Moderation Could Be Disasterous.” After a nasty detour in the comments (regressive, oversimplistic arguments abounding), I still didn’t feel clear about the ruling implications for FF&C. Except that SCOTUS, when/if it finds marriage a “contract,” obligates one state to honor another’s “contract”?

    Argh, I don’t a single-sheet infographic, I need a book- or pamphlet-length Marriage Equality Law For Beginners (a la my favorite graphic nonfiction book series)! Help!

    • Ooooh. I’ll read those when I get home.

      That “conservative, yet positive” outcome you mention is actually the one that I think is most likely (just my personal opinion). It does cause problems, though, because then, if I move to, say, Pennsylvania, they’re then required to recognize my marriage. (I think.) So we’d be in a situation where states don’t necessarily GRANT Same-sex marriages, but are required to recognize them.

      I think it’ll be really interesting.

      Or I would if I wasn’t so @#$%ing anxious about it…

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