Supreme Court Will Decide Who Can Define Marriage

Neil Munro | White House Correspondent

The Supreme Court said it will decide if it will allow Americans to define the purpose and rules of marriage.

The court announced Friday, Jan. 16 that it would hear appeals of four cases from an appeals court that that has rejected demands to recognize single-sex marriage.

The court will likely hold a public hearing in April, and issue its decision in June.

The swing-vote on the nine-judge court is Justice Anthony Kennedy. He generally favors centralized government over decentralized federalism, and is likely to impose a single definition of marriage on the nation’s 50 states.

Kennedy and the court have gradually promoted single-sex marriage since 2003.

In June 2013, Kennedy provided the fifth vote to wipe out a voter-approved constitutional ballot in California that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. On the same day, Kennedy also provided the fifth vote to wipe out a 1996 congressional law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Since then, numerous progressive judges have used the court’s 2013 decision to redefine marriage in numerous states to include single-sex couples. They’ve even redefined marriage in states that previously passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as an institution of two complementary sexes.

However, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently allowed four states to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

That November decision was applauded by social conservatives. The decision was “a common sense recognition that it is not for the federal courts to substitute their judgment about whether same-sex ‘marriage’ is a good idea or not, but to leave it to the people to make the decision about this fundamental institution,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

Some conservatives say citizens should be allowed to set laws that rewards parents who jointly raise their children, because science and evolved traditions show that children prosper best when their parents are married.

Progressives, however, argue that governments should not favor either homosexuality and heterosexuality, and that the two-sex definition of marriage damages the welfare and social status of gays and lesbians. To ensure equal outcomes, progressives have pushed for laws that allowed marriage of two men or two women, regardless of how a changed definition might further reduce the various legal and social incentives for parents to raise their children within marriages.

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