The Supreme Court announced Jan. 16 that it would review appeals from four circuit courts that ruled on same-sex marriage last year. This case will decide whether gay marriage is a matter left to state discretion or a right protected by the Constitution. The longstanding legal debate appears to be heading towards a resolution.
The 2013 Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor struck down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defines marriage solely as a legal union between a man and woman. The Supreme Court will now review the appeals to determine whether same-sex marriage is a right to be granted by the states or is an inalienable right protected by the Constitution. Currently, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, a substantial increase from 2013, when it was allowed in only 12 states. The appeals to the Court come from plaintiffs from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee challenging same-sex marriage bans.
Controversy surrounding marital recognition across state lines (in which one state has legalized and another has banned same-sex marriage, for instance) has continued to fuel the discussion of whether gay marriage is an issue of states' rights. Opponents of same-sex marriage argue that the federal government is not explicitly provided the right to pass laws on same-sex marriage, as the 10th Amendment provides states with all powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government. On the other hand, advocates of the national legalization of gay marriage will likely cite the 14th Amendment, which claims every citizen deserves equal protection and rights under the law.
The rapid change in attitudes towards same-sex marriage in the American public indicates a possible ruling in favor of national recognition of marriage between same-sex couples. Many Blazers are optimistic that the ruling will go in favor of same-sex couples. "Over the past few years, I believe that awareness for gay rights has improved and increased," Patty Pablo, a senior and member of Blair's Gay Straight Alliance. "I'm encountering more and more people who are more tolerant towards those of us who are queer, and I have found that many support gay rights here in America." Many believe that marriage equality is only the first step for those in the LGTQ community. "There are still many people who remain uninformed or intolerant, and there are still a lot of LGBTQ people out there who are unrepresented, aren't in safe environments, and whose rights are still being violated," Pablo said. "We still have a lot of work ahead of us."
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