As people await rulings on the two same sex marriage cases before the US Supreme Court that are due to be released any day now, it is useful to see what the state of play is. It seems unlikely that the court will issue sweeping rulings affirming the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry, though that would be a welcome surprise. Failing that, what lies ahead?
While many states have now legalized same-sex marriage, the state-by-state route will soon hit a dead end because some state legislatures are in regions of the country that are too hostile to the idea to even contemplate it. I suspect that around half the states is the upper limit for legalization. This will lead to an increasing number of problems as people legally married in one state move to other states as part of the normal internal migration patterns.
Things will become even more complicated if the Supreme Court rules that the federal government cannot deny federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples that are legally married in the state in which they live, which is the issue in one of the cases under review. Does this mean that same-sex married couples lose their federal benefits if they move from a state that legalizes such marriages to one which does not? That would be bizarre.
One option is for Congress to repeal the infamous DOMA legislation that allows states to not recognize marriages performed in other states, that went against the long standing practice of mutual acceptance. This is likely to happen since the sentiment for repeal of DOMA is rising rapidly. I suspect that the Democrats in congress are waiting for the supreme court rulings before moving to repeal DOMA, especially since this issue will put the Republican party in congress in an awkward position since they are trying to shake the label of being anti-gay, that has shown to be an especially big negative with young voters.
But you can be sure that even if DOMA is repealed, some states will still refuse to recognize same-sex marriages of other states which means that the issue will go before the courts again to see if they have the right to do so.
Instead of this tedious and long process, I wish opponents of same-sex marriage, now that they realize that they are definitely going to lose on this issue, would spare everyone the time and trouble and just accept it.