Marriage equality takes center stage

Every now and then, one issue dominates news cycles over the course of several days, or even weeks.

Marriage equality is this week’s dominant topic of discussion throughout the media. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court this week heard two days of oral arguments that have triggered debate and controversy across the land.

On Tuesday, the court heard arguments about whether it should overturn Proposition 8, which California voters approved in 2008. Prop 8 bans same-sex marriage in that state. Then on Wednesday, the court listened to arguments over the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, approved by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996.

The discussion is sure to continue well beyond this week. It surely will dominate PBS news broadcasting as the week draws to a close, both on the “PBS NewsHour” and then on “Washington Week in Review,” both of which air back-to-back Friday on KACV-TV beginning at 6 p.m.

Prop 8 was approved five years ago after a furious debate in the Golden State about whether same-sex couples deserved the same protection under the law and the right to marry as heterosexual couples. What’s more, the case heard before the Supreme Court this sweek brought to the same side two top-flight lawyers — David Boies and Ted Olson — who opposed each other in the landmark Bush v. Gore court case that decided the 2000 presidential election; Boies represented Vice President Al Gore and Olson represented Texas Gov. George W. Bush in a bitter fight over the recounting of ballots in Florida after the November 2000 presidential election. Bush, of course, won that case and the two lawyers — Boies and Olson — made up and joined forces to fight Prop 8.

DOMA’s constitutionality is being challenged by those who believe the federal government has interfered in what ought to be a state issue and also by those who say the U.S. Constitution grants equal protection to all Americans regardless of their sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on both of these cases by June. But the arguments that have just been completed in the highest court in the land have sparked an intense national debate that likely will continue at least through the time the court delivers its opinion on the issue of marriage equality.

Once the court rules — regardless of how the justices come down on this one — look for the discussion to intensify yet again.

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