On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear both sides on issues involving the rights states may have in defining marriage. The court in 2013 already struck down federal prohibitions on same-sex marriages when it invalidated Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Now it turns its attention to whether states can define marriage to exclude same-sex couples.
Specifically, the court will consider these two questions, according to legal scholars:
1) Does the 14th Amendment to the Constitution require a state to license marriage between same-sex couples?
2) Does the same amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their union was legally sanctioned and performed in another state?
Ironically, many SCOTUS watchers predict the justices will split, saying no on the first question and yes on the second.
If that’s the case, then another lawsuit challenging the new definition of spouse for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave purposes will be rendered moot, as that case contents that Section 2 of DOMA gives states a safe harbor to reject legal same-sex marriages performed in other states. The Department of Labor (DOL) definition being challenged requires all states to recognize legally performed same-sex marriages, wherever they originated, for FMLA purposes.
The high court usually withholds controversial opinions until the end of its yearly session in June, as it did with DOMA.
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