As the Supreme Court considered the case for gay marriage at the end of March, most experts agree that the while national laws might not change in 2013, it’s just a matter of time until the court legalizes gay marriage. In the meantime, the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and woman, is expected to be overturned on the grounds that the states need to make marriage-related decisions.
At issue are federal benefits for gays and lesbians. Gay marriage is now legal in 10 states and Washington, D.C. and continues to battle forward in the rest of the nation. While one argument against gay marriage addressed procreation, that objection was quickly overruled due to infertile couples or those who are too old to conceive. One justice expressed concerns that the newness of same-sex marriage means the courts is not ready to hear that matter yet. A second justice added that supporters of gay marriage demonstrated inconsistency when they say that children of same-sex couples are doing well but want legal recognition to help their self-esteem.1
The case in question surrounds the relationship of a lesbian couple after one of the parties died. Her partner needed to pay inheritance taxes of more than $360,000 because they were not legally married. Married couples do not pay inheritance taxes.2 The woman is fighting for the right to receive the inheritance granted to her without paying excessive taxation.
Most Americans believe that the implications nationally for the rights of homosexual couples will specifically impact about 25 percent of the country. However, according to a study quoted in Psychology today, slightly less than four percent of adults in the nation self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This translates to about nine million people across the nation.3
Although this figure might be somewhat lower than what was previously suggested, studies further show that most Americans personally know someone who self-identifies as LGBT. 3 This brings the issue closer to home for even some conservatives as they wrestle with long-held traditions and convictions in the face of a family member or friend who might be denied spending their life with a loved one. One poll conducted by CBS and the New York Times in 2012 indicated that 38 percent of Americans were in favor of same-sex marriages while an additional 24 percent supported civil unions. Although one-third of the nation did not want to offer them any recognition, the numbers for those supporting gay marriage continue to increase.3
However, the so-called “slippery slope” of the redefinition of traditional marriage might make some justices nervous. They may hesitate to challenge such a long-standing history in the nation and very well could wash their hands of the decision by giving every state the right to make their own choice on the matter.
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