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U.S. Supreme Court Signals Reluctance to Rule on Marriage Equality

By Jeffrey Knipmeyer on April 12, 2013

Nine states currently recognize same-sex marriages, and nationwide polls demonstrate increasing support for marriage equality in the U.S.  Even so, signals from the Supreme Court indicate justices are reluctant to broadly rule on the right to marry for gays and lesbians.

As reported by The Chicago Tribune, some of the nine Supreme Court justices have displayed a reluctance to deal with this still divisive issue.  Although nine states recognize same-sex marriage, 30 states still have constitutional amendments prohibiting gay marriage.  Potential swing voter Justice Anthony Kennedy clearly indicated where he stood on the issue by warning the Court that they were getting into “uncharted waters.”

The Court will also be giving consideration to the related question — should the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) be struck down?  DOMA was initiated in 1996 and denies married same-sex couples the same federal benefits heterosexual couples receive.  Rulings in both cases are not anticipated until mid-summer, 2013.

Justice Samuel Alito also had reservations about adopting same-sex marriage.  He urged caution on the part of the other justices by stating that the concept of same-sex marriage is newer than the Internet or cell phones.

Justice Antonin Scalia pointed at “considerable disagreement,” which still exists concerning whether or not gays and lesbians should be allowed to raise children together.

President Obama has proposed a compromise for which none of the justices has voiced support.  His solution would be to strike down California’s Proposition 8 and to require the eight states that currently recognize domestic partnerships or civil unions to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Partner Jeffrey Knipmeyer of the Chicago family law and civil union law firm of Nottage and Ward has been a leader in handling family matters in the gay community for many years.  Our firm handles legal matters for couples in many living arrangements.  If you need legal help with complex matters of family law, please call (312) 332-2915.

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