(Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
The U.S. Supreme Court will review two major gay marriage laws on Tuesday and Wednesday and the court's decisions have the potential to change the entire landscape of marriage in America.
When the Supreme Court takes on the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's 2008 Proposition 8 which upheld traditional marriage, the justices will be tasked with making some very important decisions. The justices can uphold traditional marriage on a federal level, they can block the ban on gay marriage across state levels, or they can keep the decision in the hands of voters in each individual state.
"There aren't many Supreme Court decisions that have the potential to be as transformative," said Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of the University of California Irvine School of Law, according to Yahoo News.
Currently, nine U.S. states, and the District of Columbia, have legalized same-sex marriage. Support for including gay couples in the definition of marriage has been growing, with a Fox News poll last week showing that more Americans support this inclusion than oppose it.
In the March 17-19 poll of 1,002 registered voters, with a ± 3 percentage points sampling error, 49 percent of respondents said they support gay marriage, while 46 percent said that they oppose it.
A growing number of politicians, including former president Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA in 1996, his wife and former sectary of state Hillary Clinton, as well as the current White House administration, have all said that DOMA is unconstitutional and that gay couples who are legally married in their states should not be denied federal benefits. A number of religious and conservative groups, however, have warned that such a change could harm the established family unit and be detrimental to children.
Dr. Richard Land, executive editor of The Christian Post, previewed the major cases related to those laws that the justices will review this week, most notably Hollingsworth v. Perry, which is focused around Prop. 8, and U.S. v. Windsor, which is tied to DOMA.
Land predicts that the justices will "take the path of least judicial activism and most judicial restraint" and leave same-sex marriage to be decided by each individual state. He warned that any larger decision that seeks to impose a change on states that currently are opposed to it would further divide America on this sensitive issue.
The Fox poll last week reflected that prediction, with 53 percent of respondents expressing that states should be allowed to decide on their own, and 45 percent disagreeing.
Should the Supreme Court produce a surprise and legalize gay marriage across all states, America will become the 12th country in the world to fully embrace the practice.