THE SUPREME COURT has teed up what could be one of the weightiest civil rights rulings in years. It decided last week to hear arguments on two cases regarding same-sex marriage — one on California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, and another on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Advocates of same-sex marriage celebrated the arrival of this issue to the highest court, understandably. But some, also understandably, worry about the possible outcome.
Recent developments already had given advocates of same-sex marriage many reasons to celebrate. Two federal appeals courts struck down the worst parts of DOMA this year. Then, in November, voters in three states, including Maryland, chose to legalize same-sex marriage, the first time such measures have prevailed at the ballot box; a fourth state voted down a ban on same-sex marriage. Now, with increasing evidence of growing social acceptance, some hope that in 2013 the run of victories will be capped with a sweeping ruling from the justices proclaiming marriage equality to be constitutionally guaranteed under the 14th Amendment.