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The U.S. Supreme Court rulings on marriage rights mark the historic culmination of a long legal battle. Over 100,000 legally married same-sex couples will see their lives changed by the decisions, which open the door for tens of thousands of California couples to wed. But the rulings also raise at least as many questions as they answer. In striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the court said that the U.S. government was illegally discriminating between marriages, but left open the question of whether state bans on marriage by same-sex couples are constitutional. And the court’s decision on Proposition 8 left in place a lower court ruling invalidating California’s ban on same-sex marriage, but offered no guidance to the state on how to proceed. Taken together, these cases pose new practical questions for couples, create new legal duties for governments at both the state and federal levels, and establish new precedents that could apply to issues far beyond marriage. UCLA Williams Institute legal director David Codell, San Francisco chief deputy city attorney Therese Stewart, and UCLA Williams Institute research director M.V. Lee Badgett visit Zócalo to explore the human impact of the court decisions, address misconceptions about the cases, and offer ways of understanding what comes next for the institution of marriage and for LGBT rights, in California and around the country.
Photo courtesy of European Parliament.