The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday November 29th

Same-sex marriage hearings to start

The hearings for four different cases will come after the highest court’s refusal to review five circuit court decisions overturning same-sex marriage bans in October.

In two and a half hours of oral arguments, the court could determine the legality — according to the 14th amendment — of states denying same-sex marriage licenses, as well as whether the marriages will be recognized in states where it is not legal.

The court’s decision is likely to come in June, and Steve Sanders, a law professor at Indiana University and co-author of the Human Rights Campaign’s amicus brief, said he expects the court will rule against gay marriage bans.

“The most likely result is a 5-4 decision in favor of marriage equality with Justice Kennedy writing the majority opinion,” Sanders said.

This is not the first time the court has dealt with a definition of marriage — it has struck down restrictions in three different cases, he said.

“The idea that the Supreme Court doesn’t have any authority with the question of marriage is frankly just idiotic,” he said.

Despite the persistence of religious arguments for and against marriage bans, Sanders said he doubts they will be a primary focus.

“They’ll make arguments that are religious but intended to sound secular,” he said.

“We’re sort of past the day — and even states know this — when purely religious arguments are going to carry any weight with the court.”

But Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said he believes the public has a skewed perspective of how many people truly support gay marriage.

“There’s a very somewhat limited perspective presented in the U.S. because many in the mainstream media clearly support same-sex marriage,” Brown said.

He questioned the authority of the court to “define marriage,” and he said children of same-sex couples are negatively affected.

“It doesn’t take a sociology degree to understand that it is not the same to be raised by two men or two women,” Brown said.

But Kinsey Morrison, a freshman at Stanford University and signer of the amicus brief from the Family Equality Council, said she hopes her story and collaboration with the council will show this is not the case.

Along with speaking this week in front of the Supreme Court building, Morrison has defended her mothers’ rights to legally marry in a video with her sisters — and she’s been surprised by the lack of backlash.

“Probably the worst of it is yet to come,” Morrison said. “(Opponents to gay marriage are) not going to go down without a fight, and it’s going to be pretty ugly I think.”

Morrison, a straight, conservative Christian, said gay marriage is a nonpartisan issue that upholds the “sanctity of marriage.”

“Marriage is a conservative value,” she said. “It’s not a partisan issue; it’s not a democratic issue; it’s not an agnostic issue.”

Neil Siegel, a law professor at Duke University, said he expects dissent in the Deep South if the court rules in favor of gay marriage.

“The Supreme Court can settle the marriage issue, but it’s not going to settle the cultural debate over gay rights.”


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