As Bill Mears reports for CNN, the U.S. Supreme Court might soon hear appeals regarding the issue of same-sex marriage. Specifically, one of the lawsuits alleges an unconstitutional federal estate tax that the widowed partner would not have had to pay were it not for the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
A growing number of states are tackling the same-sex marriage issue at the moment, including Maryland, which this year legalized same-sex marriage, giving same-sex couples the same rights affecting matters like child custody as afforded opposite-sex couples under family law.
New same-sex marriage laws, however, are at risk in many of the same states that have passed them, and some that haven’t. Maryland, which has passed the law, and Minnesota, which hasn’t, both have ballot initiatives in the coming election asking voters to vote for or against same-sex marriage.
That’s exactly what happened in California after that state legalized same-sex marriage in 2008, in which a subsequent ballot initiative got 52 percent of the vote in opposition. Thus, same-sex couples saw the right of marriage expanded to them, and then quickly taken away.
The U.S. Supreme Court has an opportunity, Mears writes, to frame the same-sex marriage issue broadly or narrowly, deciding whether or not marriage is a “fundamental right” that all citizens, gay or straight, deserve. On the other hand, the Court might wait and do nothing at all, opting instead for Congress to duke it out with legislation.