theSkimm's Guide to

GAY MARRIAGE RULING

THE STORY

This month, the Supreme Court is finally going to decide whether John can marry John and Cindy can marry Cindy in every single state.

GIMME SOME BACKGROUND.

The Supremes have done a fantastic job of not being decisive on this issue at all, and just kinda letting things happen. Which has paved the way for a LOT of confusion. Many people thought things would be cleared up in 2013. That’s when the Court struck down the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), which denied federal benefits to married same-sex couples. But the Justices very pointedly did NOT say whether gay marriage was legal, went on summer vacation, and left it all up the states to figure out.

IS THAT A BAD THING?

Depends who you ask. This plays into the bigger argument of states’ rights vs federal rights. Some people think ‘different stripes for different stars,’ meaning states should be able to make up their own minds. Others think ‘united we stand,’ meaning the country should have one official opinion, to prevent confusion at the altar.

SO WHAT’S HAPPENED IN DIFFERENT STATES?

Lower courts started striking down gay marriage bans. Now, 37 states including DC let gay couples tie the knot, and 14 ban gay marriage. The ‘marriage is between a man and a woman’ camp challenged those rulings in some states, which went all the way to the Supremes’ desk last year. The Justices went, ‘nope, not getting involved,’ saying that as long as the lower courts agreed on gay marriage, they didn’t have to weigh in again. Guess what?

WHAT?

A lower court disagreed, and became the first to uphold gay marriage bans in four states. Cue a loud sigh from the Supreme Court, which agreed to take up the issue for themselves. Again.

SO WHAT EXACTLY ARE THEY DECIDING?

Whether the Constitution makes gay marriage a federal right, and requires all states to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Or at least recognize ones that said ‘I do’ in another state.

WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

The ‘I just marathoned ‘OITNB’’ side says that the 14th Amendment - which requires equal protection under the law - was meant to include same-sex couples. The ‘I just marathoned ‘Duck Dynasty’’ side says there are societal benefits from a traditional family (hint: making babies). But public opinion has dramatically shifted in the past few years - now, polls say that more than half of the country is down with gay marriage.

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?

No idea but DC interns have been training all summer.

theSKIMM

There’s a good chance that the Supremes will bring marriage equality for all to the US. But they might also say, once again, that it’s up to the states to decide. Meanwhile, one of the biggest election topics of the last decade could effectively be taken off the table. Just in time for 2016.

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