Advocates for same-sex marriage submitted briefs to the US Supreme Court [official website] Thursday in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry [docket; cert. petition, PDF] for the respondent couples, as well as for the City and County of San Fransisco [briefs, PDF]. The advocates urged the court to find California's 2008 ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, claiming that the law served only to "stigmatize gay men and lesbians." The ban, known as Proposition 8 [text, PDF, JURIST news archive], was a voter-approved state measure to limit the meaning of marriage to include only a man and a woman. In 2012, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional [JURIST report], as it "stripped same-sex couples of...an important right." The Supreme Court is to review this ruling on March 26 to determine the constitutionality of Proposition 8, and to examine whether the law may legally be defended in future federal courts. In addition to this case, the court is also scheduled to hear a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text, PDF; JURIST news archive] next month.
The issue of same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is an ongoing controversy in the US. Last month the Supreme Court received briefs in two separate cases defending the constitutionality [JURIST report] of both Proposition 8 and Section 3 of DOMA. The court granted certiorari [JURIST report] in both cases in December. In early December, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire certified the results of Referendum 74 [JURIST report] which legalized same-sex marriage in the state. In the same time frame, the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, a non-profit corporation in Nevada which opposes same-sex marriage, petitioned the US Supreme Court [JURIST report] to grant certiorari to determine whether the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause requires Nevada to change its definition of marriage from the union of a man and a woman to the union of two persons. In November, the office of the Maryland Attorney General released an opinion [JURIST report] stating that same-sex couples can obtain marriage licenses, allowing Maryland to become the ninth US state to allow same sex marriage after Maine and Washington [JURIST reports] enacted similar measures in November.