It is all over but the waiting for the 31 plaintiffs from the four states in the Federal Sixth Circuit, who asked the United States Supreme Court to legalize same sex marriage on Tuesday.
Oral arguments in the case lasted two and a half hours. Although constitutional scholars are predicting the court will approve marriage equality, it was not clear yesterday whether Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is the most likely the swing vote, will indeed vote in favor of the gay plaintiffs.
Some of the justices, though, were easier to read.
“For millennia, not–not a single other society until the Netherlands in 2001, and you’re telling me they were all…I don’t know what,” Justice Antonin Scalia said.
Justice Sonya Sotomayor seemed to side with the plaintiffs.
…”you know, the problem is that I don’t actually accept your starting premise,” she said to the opposing side. “The right to marriage is, I think, embedded in our constitutional law. It is a fundamental right. We’ve said it in a number of cases.”
The significance of the case was evidenced by the rare two and a half hours the justices set aside for oral arguments, and the demonstrators who spent days outside the court.
We have been following the Ohio plaintiffs, including Jim Obergefell’s effort to be recognized as a surviving spouse on his late husband’s death certificate.
“I don’t pay much attention at all to the protestors who think I’m less than human and who think I don’t deserve the same rights that they enjoy,” he said.
“Marriage is a fundamental right and I am here fighting for my civil rights. I deserve the same rights as every other American.”
Nicole and Pam Yorksmith both want to be listed as parents on the birth certificates of the two sons that Nicole conceived through artificial insemination.
Nicole said she felt “very optimistic.”
“It felt great that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I couldn’t have been prouder to sit in that courtroom listening to the argument,” she said.
The justices must decide whether to require states to license same-sex marriages, and, if not, whether to require them to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
But attorneys for the states say this is an issue that goes to the heart of their ability to self-govern, and to do as they have always done–regulate the views of marriage.
The decision is due in June. And whatever the justices decide, the case will end. But the controversy will not.