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Supreme Court Further Blurs Legal Definition Of Marriage

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings with unprecedented implications for marriage and religious freedom in America. Alliance Defending Freedom was involved in the Supreme Court’s considerations on both of these cases.

First, the high court ruled 5-4 that a section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)—which defines marriage, for all federal purposes, as a legal union between one man and one woman—is unconstitutional. The court added that same-sex couples who receive "marriage" licenses from the state are eligible for the same federal benefits as married opposite-sex couples.

This ruling applies only to the federal government, not the states. The high court was clear that "[b]y history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage … has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States." In states where advocates of same-sex marriage continue to file lawsuits demanding marriage licenses, Alliance Defending Freedom will continue to defend marriage.

"Americans should be able to continue advancing the truth about marriage between a man and a woman," says Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Austin R. Nimocks, "and why it matters for children, civil society, and limited government."


The Supreme Court’s second ruling seriously impaired the freedom of Californians to advance the truth about marriage. The court declined to review the validity of Proposition 8, a California constitutional amendment defining marriage as a one-man, one-woman union.

The court said that the official proponents of Proposition 8—ProtectMarriage.com and Alliance Defending Freedom—do not have the legal standing to defend that law in federal court, even though the state’s governor and attorney general refused to defend it themselves. While the California Supreme Court determined unanimously that the Prop 8 proponents represented the interests of the state in their defense of California’s constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear their arguments. The high court then voided a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit opinion striking down the amendment.

Without an appellate court decision declaring the amendment unconstitutional, Proposition 8 should remain the law of the land in California. But officials continue to undermine that law and implement, without the consent of the governed, same-sex "marriage" throughout California.

"The court’s decision does not take away the right of Americans to have a voice in our country’s marriage debate," says Nimocks, one of several Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys serving as co-counsel on the case. "Marriage will remain timeless, universal, and special, because children need mothers and fathers."

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