U.S. Supreme Court justices are weighing same-sex marriage. During the first of two days of oral arguments, the spotlight was on California's Proposition 8. The voter-approved measure bans same-sex marriage. Attorney Charles Cooper, who represents supporters of Prop 8, called the measure constitutional and warned that there could be "injury to the state" if the measure is overturned. California state officials have refused to defend the law in court. Cooper suggested that legalizing same-sex marriage could harm the institution of marriage. Cooper said trying to redefine marriage could have "real world consequences."
Attorney Ted Olsen, representing opponents of Prop 8, said it violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. He argued that it "walls off gays and lesbians from marriage, the most important relation in life." Olsen said the law stigmatizes an entire class of Californians "based on their status." One potential swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, expressed some doubts about Prop 8. Kennedy cited the potential for "imminent legal injury" to tens of thousands of California children who are being raised by same-sex couples.
Justice Kennedy also said he may be very "very uncomfortable" striking down Prop 8. He suggested the possibility of dismissing the case. That would leave in place an appeals court ruling which struck down the law. The second day of oral arguments will focus on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA [[ DOE-mah ]]. The 1996 law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Same-sex marriage is the biggest civil rights to come before the high court in decades.