The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

March 28, 2013

A boost for gay marriage: Justices question U.S. law

WASHINGTON — Concluding two days of intense debate, the Supreme Court signaled Wednesday that it could give a boost to same-sex marriage by striking down the federal law that denies legally married gay spouses a wide range of benefits offered to other couples.

As the court wrapped up its arguments over gay marriage in America, a majority of the justices indicated they will invalidate part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act — if they can get past procedural problems similar to those that appeared to mark Tuesday’s case over California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Since the federal law was enacted in 1996, nine states and the District of Columbia have made it legal for gays and lesbians to marry. Same-sex unions also were legal in California for nearly five months in 2008 before the Proposition 8 ban.

Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the four more-liberal justices in raising questions Wednesday about a provision that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for purposes of federal law.

It affects more than 1,100 statutes in which marital status is relevant, dealing with tax breaks for married couples, Social Security survivor benefits and, for federal employees, health insurance and leave to care for spouses.

Kennedy said the Defense of Marriage Act appears to intrude on the power of states that have chosen to recognize same-sex marriages.

Other justices said the law creates what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called two classes of marriage, full and “skim-milk marriage.”

If the court strikes down part of DOMA, it would represent a victory for gay rights advocates. But it would be something short of the endorsement of gay marriage nationwide that some envisioned when the justices agreed in December to hear the federal case and the challenge to California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Study: Half of jailed youths have injury

    NEW YORK — About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City’s jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that’s the latest in a growing body of ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Senate to debate rideshare regulations

    PHOENIX — Among the major issues left to cover at the Arizona Legislature before the session ends is how to regulate the increasingly popular ridesharing programs like Uber and Lyft. The contentious debate has pitted traditional taxi ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Quake shakes Mexican capital

    ACAPULCO, Mexico — A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties....

    April 19, 2014

  • Fear and loathing

    DENVER — A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Captain arrested after sinking of ferry

    MOKPO, South Korea — The captain of a sunken South Korean ferry was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need, as investigators looked into whether his evacuation order came too late to save lives. Two crew ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Judge asks pointed questions in gay marriage case

    DENVER — A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions....

    April 18, 2014

  • Sudan: 12 die after mob attacks UN base

    JUBA, South Sudan — An angry mob of South Sudanese youths attacked a U.N. base on Thursday to harm members of an ethnic minority sheltering inside. Peacekeepers were forced to open fire, amid rampaging violence that killed at least 12 ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

    LOS ANGELES — Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Creek, old purse solve mystery

    ELK POINT, S.D. — Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson had planned to celebrate the end of the 1971 school year by gathering with classmates at a quarry along a gravel road....

    April 18, 2014

  • Chaotic scene described on sinking ferry

    MOKPO, South Korea — There was chaos and confusion on the bridge of a sinking ferry, with the captain first trying to stabilize the listing vessel before ordering its evacuation, a crewman said Thursday....

    April 18, 2014