As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to issue a couple of historic decisions on gay marriage this month, pundits are predicting that the court – ever cautious and conservative – will be “politically” smart and give both sides of the issue something to cheer about.
The prediction: The justices will limit the expansion of gay marriage rights to California and boldly strike down the Defense of Marriage Act’s ban on federal benefits for same-sex married couples. Such moves by the court would not only be “politically smart” – it allows them not to make “political decisions” for the country.
In the California case (Hollingsworth vs. Perry), the court could rule in favor of the two couples involved in the case or it could apply its ruling to the entire state. It is possible, of course, for the court to throw out the case on the ground that the marriage ban’s supporters do not have any legal right to appeal the lower court rulings; if this happens, the earlier appeals court ruling striking down the law banning gay marriage will stand. In the Defense of Marriage Act case (United States vs. Windsor), the court could go all the way and declare the law unconstitutional.
The country moves on as the most civilized and democratic nation on the face of the earth. Much has yet to be done by way of civil and political rights, but change for the better is happening and will continue to take place.