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Should Same-Sex Marriage be a Constitutional Right?

| June 29, 2013 | 6 Comments
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PBS NewsHour

PBS NewsHour


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #DoNowMarry

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.


Do Now

How do you feel about the Supreme Court’s decision in relation to gay marriage?

Introduction

The Supreme Court issued rulings on two highly-anticipated cases on gay marriage this week. It was the latest round in a heartfelt culture war and a historic victory for gay rights. The Court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA) which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional.

In a separate ruling, it did not take on the broader issue of gay marriage but decided that supporters of Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure that had outlawed same-sex marriages in California, did not have standing to bring the case to the court. KQED’s The Lowdown traces the history of Prop 8 with an interactive timeline.

This decision means that legally married same-sex couples are now entitled to the same federal benefits as married opposite sex couples; that is to the numerous federal regulations relating to benefits, Social Security, housing, taxes, estate taxes, veterans benefits etc. Attorney General Eric Holder said the court’s decision on DOMA is an “enormous triumph for equal protection under the law for all Americans.”

Wednesday’s rulings extend federal recognition to same-sex marriages in the states where they are legal, adding California to the list of 12 states that recognize same sex unions. That will mean about 30 percent of Americans live in states recognizing same-sex marriage. But then “For a full civil liberties victory, we need broad-based support from coast to coast,” the ACLU’s executive director, Anthony Romero, said. The issue here could be that benefits may only be claimed in the states that recognize same sex marriages. So traveling or living out of states where benefits can be claimed may be a problem.

There are those who were deeply troubled by the Supreme Court rulings. Scott Shafer outlines on KQED News Fix what’s at stake for supporters of Prop 8.

“To the sponsors of Prop. 8, like Protect Marriage.com attorney Andrew Pugno, California voters had a good reason for limiting marriage to one man and one woman. ‘We’d be in a very different world if a small minority can choose a new lifestyle,’ Pugno said, ‘and then insist on a constitutional right to have government uphold that choice as an ideal.’ In briefs filed with the Supreme Court, Pugno’s legal team argues the rationale for Prop. 8 is that marriage is the institution that links biological parents with their children. ‘And if the parents are not encouraged to bind themselves together for the benefit of the children,’ he said, ‘then ultimately it’s the children that suffer.'”

“The debate over marriage has only just begun,” said Austin Nimocks in a recent article in SF Gate, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group. Meanwhile California Attorney General Kamala Harris rushed down to City Hall to perform the first marriage. Wedding bells will be ringing this week.

Resource

KQEQ Forum Supreme Court Clears the Way for Same-Sex Marriage in California – June 26, 2013
The U.S. Supreme Court issued two long-awaited decisions today, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, and ruling that Proposition 8 supporters did not have standing to bring the case, thus clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California. We talk about how the Justices ruled, and what these watershed decisions mean for the state.


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowMarry

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.

We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can…and any contribution is most welcomed.


More Resources

PBS NewsHour video How Does Court’s Decisions on Gay Marriage Impact State and U.S. Law? – June 26, 2013
What are the legal implications of the Supreme Court’s decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8? Jeffrey Brown gets two views on the impact of the court’s rulings from Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defending Freedom and Mary Bonauto of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

KQED News post Same-Sex Marriage in California: Decoding the Prop. 8 and DOMA Rulings and What’s Next – June 26, 2013
After years of waiting, we finally have two U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the legality of same-sex marriage. But neither ruling was the type of clear-cut decision that advocates on both sides of the issue were hoping for. KQED spoke to several experts about the details of the cases and how this could all play out.

KQED The Lowdown post How California’s Prop. 8 Clawed its Way Up to the Supreme Court – June 24, 2013
All eyes are on the Supreme Court this week as it prepares to announce a decision in the landmark Proposition 8 case, on the constitutionality of California’s same-sex marriage ban. So how did the Prop. 8 case get all the way from California to the U.S. Supreme Court? Scroll through this interactive to trace the path.

PBS NewsHour Extra post Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gay Rights – June 28, 2013
Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court issued two rulings on the ongoing debate over same-sex marriage. In a victory for gay rights activists, the Supreme Court extended benefits to legally married gay couples, but did not rule on the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

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Category: Do Now, Do Now: Government and Civics, News & Civics

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About the Author ()

Maxine Einhorn is from London and has lived in the Bay Area for 12 years. She has worked in adult education in London,UK, for over twenty years as a tenured instructor and department manager. She has an MA in Film and TV from University of London and has taught, moderated and appraised academic work in film studies and media literacy at undergraduate and college level. She runs the ESL/ Post Secondary project at KQED which offers media-rich resources for and created by ESL educators.
  • Cora Keeney

    I am really disappointed that a reputable news source and community organization, which I personally respect, would degrade itself by asking such an offensive question in such a shallow manner to young people, many of whom that are required to respond are Queer themselves. Marriage Equality is a Civil Rights issue, not a hot button topic to be exploited. As a high school teacher, I am grateful for free, comprehensive educational resources, and I do believe there is some value in the do-now project, however I have 2 serious concerns. One, again, this is a Civil Rights issue, there is no debate. Period. Imagine asking a “do-now” question 50 some years ago, “Are Jim Crow Laws Constitutional?” The shame attached to posing such a question then will follow you in 50 years for asking young gay men and women about the constitutionality of Marriage Discrimination. Two, you are taking a serious problem which degrades, wounds and hinders not only gay Americans, but all of us as a nation and reducing it to 140 characters. For shame. Please remember that when you pose these questions there are thousands of wounded, beautiful, unique, hopeful and impressionable youth on the other side, and think of them before you type.

  • Cora Keeney

    I am really disappointed that a reputable news source and community organization, which I personally respect, would degrade itself by asking such an offensive question in such a shallow manner to young people, many of whom that are required to respond are Queer themselves. Marriage Equality is a Civil Rights issue, not a hot button topic to be exploited. As a high school teacher, I am grateful for free, comprehensive educational resources, and I do believe there is some value in the do-now project, however I have 2 serious concerns. One, again, this is a Civil Rights issue, there is no debate. Period. Imagine asking a “do-now” question 50 some years ago, “Are Jim Crow Laws Constitutional?” The shame attached to posing such a question then will follow you in 50 years for asking young gay men and women about the constitutionality of Marriage Discrimination. Two, you are taking a serious problem which degrades, wounds and hinders not only gay Americans, but all of us as a nation and reducing it to 140 characters. For shame. Please remember that when you pose these questions there are thousands of wounded, beautiful, unique, hopeful and impressionable youth on the other side, and think of them before you type.

  • Cora Keeney

    I am really disappointed that a reputable news source and community organization, which I personally respect, would degrade itself by asking such an offensive question in such a shallow manner to young people, many of whom that are required to respond are Queer themselves. Marriage Equality is a Civil Rights issue, not a hot button topic to be exploited. As a high school teacher, I am grateful for free, comprehensive educational resources, and I do believe there is some value in the do-now project, however I have 2 serious concerns. One, again, this is a Civil Rights issue, there is no debate. Period. Imagine asking a “do-now” question 50 some years ago, “Are Jim Crow Laws Constitutional?” The shame attached to posing such a question then will follow you in 50 years for asking young gay men and women about the constitutionality of Marriage Discrimination. Two, you are taking a serious problem which degrades, wounds and hinders not only gay Americans, but all of us as a nation and reducing it to 140 characters. For shame. Please remember that when you pose these questions there are thousands of wounded, beautiful, unique, hopeful and impressionable youth on the other side, and think of them before you type.

  • Maxine

    Dear Cora,
    Thank you for this comment. We are trying to offer a platform for discussion and since the Defense of Marriage Act was brought to the Supreme Court, and there is no consensus on the issue, this post is a way to invite young people to think it through. What you say interests me: Imagine asking a “do-now” question 50 some years ago, “Are Jim Crow Laws Constitutional?” In different historical periods, conventional wisdom evolves. But how do you make that happen if you don’t engage in some kind of discourse about it. How do your win hearts and minds?

    I do however take your point about sensitivity and assure you that there was no intention to exploit this issue.

  • Maxine

    Dear Cora,
    Thank you for this comment. We are trying to offer a platform for discussion and since the Defense of Marriage Act was brought to the Supreme Court, and there is no consensus on the issue, this post is a way to invite young people to think it through. What you say interests me: Imagine asking a “do-now” question 50 some years ago, “Are Jim Crow Laws Constitutional?” In different historical periods, conventional wisdom evolves. But how do you make that happen if you don’t engage in some kind of discourse about it. How do your win hearts and minds?

    I do however take your point about sensitivity and assure you that there was no intention to exploit this issue.

  • Maxine

    Dear Cora,
    Thank you for this comment. We are trying to offer a platform for discussion and since the Defense of Marriage Act was brought to the Supreme Court, and there is no consensus on the issue, this post is a way to invite young people to think it through. What you say interests me: Imagine asking a “do-now” question 50 some years ago, “Are Jim Crow Laws Constitutional?” In different historical periods, conventional wisdom evolves. But how do you make that happen if you don’t engage in some kind of discourse about it. How do your win hearts and minds?

    I do however take your point about sensitivity and assure you that there was no intention to exploit this issue.