Please see Jason Hines’ recap/analysis of the Proposition 8 oral arguments.
There were several things that conspired to make the oral arguments in the Supreme Court today over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) seem a lot less interesting than the Prop 8 arguments that took place yesterday. First, it was the second day of hearings pertaining to the issue of gay marriage, and the second day is never as interesting as the first. Second, there was a huge and overbearingly technical argument about the standing of the Congress to defend laws that it passed. This argument took up a good section of the oral argument and it can be difficult for a layperson to follow the train of the argument. Despite these issues, I think there are at least a few interesting points that can be gleaned from took place today. As with yesterday this won’t be a full recap of the arguments, so you should go toMother Jones, or SCOTUSblog to deepen your understanding.
As I said on the Spectrum podcast last week, I think that the Court will overturn DOMA and will not overturn the decision of the 9th Cir. in the Prop 8 case. But one of the more interesting aspects of the gay marriage debate that the arguments of the last two days have highlighted is how different the discussion of marriage is from the religious to the legal realm. As someone who is a student of both disciplines, it is a difference that I straddle and attempt to expose whenever possible. Within the religious bubble, the discussion revolves around proof texts and God’s design for humanity and what is “natural” and what is not. While those discussions are occasionally useful and worthwhile, they have absolutely no bearing on marriage as a civil right. Religion was not mentioned one time over the course of the two days and neither should it have been. The issues of the extension of civil marriage are not issues of theology or spirituality (and they still won’t be if same-sex marriage became legal nationwide tomorrow). The issues are foundational issues of what make America what it is – equality, fairness, and the lack of discrimination. I think these are principles that we can all support, regardless of our religious beliefs.