Gay Marriage Initiatives on Nov. Ballots But Not on Supreme Court Schedule
On Nov. 6, 2012, four states (Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, and Washington) may legalize gay marriage, and Minnesota will consider whether or not to define marriage as an institution exclusively for opposite-sex couples. On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court released its caseload for the 2012-2013 season, and no same-sex marriage cases were on its initial schedule.
Maine and Nebraska voters will decide on repealing existing bans on gay marriage. Maryland and Washington voters will decide whether or not to uphold existing laws (not yet implemented) allowing same-sex marriage.
Minnesota voters will decide on adding language to the state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Currently six states have legal gay marriage – three by state Supreme Court decisions (Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts) and three by state legislature votes (New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont). Forty-one states have restricted marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. To date, ballot initiatives favoring gay marriage have failed all 32 times they have come up for popular vote since 1998, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday did not include any same-sex marriage cases, not even California’s controversial Proposition 8 case, in its first announcement of what lower court decisions it will review during the 2012-2013 session. Their list included only those cases that at least four of the nine justices had agreed to review. The court’s next list, scheduled for release Oct. 1, is expected to list hundreds of cases that the justices agreed to reject (“decertify”) or “defer” which means they could be heard later in the term.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a statement: “I think it’s most likely that we will have that issue before the court toward the end of the current term.”
President Obama declared his support for gay marriage on May 9, 2012, becoming the first sitting US president to do so. Republican candidate Mitt Romney said during the Republican primary debates that “I believe we should have a federal amendment in the constitution that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and woman, because I believe the ideal place to raise a child is in a home with a mom and a dad.”
Blake Herzog, “Gay Marriage Answer from US Supreme Court Could Come Tuesday,” mydesert.com, Sep. 25, 2012
Lisa Keen, “Supreme Court: Proposition 8, Three Other LGBT Cases, Not on Court’s List,” lgbtqnation.com, Sep. 25, 2012
Lisa Leff, “Prop. 8: California’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional,” csmonitor.com, Feb. 7, 2012