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U.S. Supreme Court Holds Oral Arguments Concerning the Legal Definition of Marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court recently held oral arguments for two cases involving homosexual marriage. The first, Hollingsworth v. Perry, argued last Tuesday, is a case about Proposition 8, an amendment to California's state constitution stating that California will only recognize marriage between a man and a woman. The second, United States v. Windsor, argued last Wednesday, involves the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which recognizes marriage as only between a man and a woman for all federal purposes.

Both cases involve the question of whether failing to recognize same-sex marriages violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, in both cases, the Supreme Court ordered the parties to brief the issue of whether the intervening defenders of Prop. 8 and DOMA have standing to defend the lawsuits.

In the Prop. 8 oral arguments, topics ranged from whether the defenders of Prop. 8 had standing, the impact of banning same-sex marriage on the children of same-sex couples, the purpose of marriage, whether the argument is about the label, if banning same-sex marriage has always been unconstitutional, and whether it was too soon to decide this issue.

In the DOMA oral arguments, topics also included standing, the impact of DOMA due to expansive use of the word marriage in federal law, state's rights to determine the law of marriages and divorces, and whether there is a rational basis for distinguishing between same-sex and different-sex marriages, and other equal protection issues.

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