The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a second round of arguments Wednesday over a same-sex marriage case that has the potential to determine the future of same-sex marriage in the country.
Several Boston University students said they are pleased to see the court reconsidering gay rights as the stigma has steadily faded away in recent years.
“Although it has taken a long time, the whole momentum of the gay rights movement has picked up dramatically over the past year or so,” said College of Arts and Sciences junior Sean Slattery. “Politicians are suddenly declaring their support of gay marriage, and either way the court rules, there has been such a rise in public support of gay marriage.”
The court heard 80 minutes of arguments over California’s Proposition 8 on Tuesday, which banned same-sex marriage in the state in 2008. On Wednesday, the court will hear arguments on the U.S. v. Windsor case, which is a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as union between a man and a woman.
The court will likely reach a decision on both cases by the end of June.
“The Court could decide that all bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional in all states or it could decide much more narrowly that since couples in California had the right to marry for a short time, the state can’t rescind that right now,” said BU women’s, gender and sexuality studies professor Carrie Preston in an email.
Preston said in Wednesday’s case, the Supreme Court could still extend rights to same-sex couples without decisively legalizing same-sex marriage on a federal level.
“In the DOMA case, the Court could strike the law down in a narrow way by opening federal benefits to married gay couples but not dealing with the question of the right to marry, or it could provide a more universal argument that marriage is a fundamental human right for all people,” Preston said.
Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick said he looks forward to seeing the nation follow in the footsteps of Massachusetts, which was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004.
“Today we are proud of nine years of marriage equality in Massachusetts and look forward to the day when all Americans can marry whomever they love,” he said in an email statement.
Preston said she predicts the Supreme Court will vote down DOMA.
“I believe the Justices will strike down DOMA but shirk the larger issue of marriage as a basic human right,” she said. “They will find a way to require the federal government to offer benefits to same-sex couples without mandating that all states recognize gay marriage.”
Despite the current media hype, any actual legal processes will take time, Preston said.
“These are historic cases, and yet, I expect that the Court will find compromise positions that do not mandate that all states recognize all marriages,” she said. “The ‘states rights’ argument is popular and powerful right now. I think they will try to move more slowly toward marriage rights.“
Lindsay Kopit, a College of General Studies sophomore, said she feels very strongly about ensuring marriage equality for all Americans.
“I do strongly believe that the Defense of Marriage Act is in no way in line with the protection of equal rights that we are guaranteed in the constitution,” she said. “And the same with Proposition 8.”
Mike Powell, a junior in CAS, said he was surprised these cases are just now being considered in the Supreme Court.
“I am a little confused as to how it has taken so long for this to reach the Supreme Court,” he said. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but just because you don’t agree with something doesn’t mean you can take it away from someone else.”
Powell said ensuring equal rights should not be a debate.
“Granting everyone equal rights is black and white,” he said. “Everyone deserves equal rights and there should not be any grey area. Even bringing this case to the court is another step towards equality for all Americans.”