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Justices Hear Arguments On Calif. Gay Marriage Ban

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A lawyer seeking an end to California's ban on same-sex marriage is comparing it to bans on interracial marriages, a prohibition the Supreme Court declared illegal decades ago. A lawyer seeking an end to California's ban on same-sex marriage is comparing it to bans on interracial marriages, a prohibition the Supreme Court declared illegal decades ago.
As justices considered California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, supporters of those marriages were outside the court, carrying pictures of gay weddings and families, and holding signs that read, "Marriage is a constitutional right." As justices considered California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, supporters of those marriages were outside the court, carrying pictures of gay weddings and families, and holding signs that read, "Marriage is a constitutional right."
Opponents marched down a roadway in front of the court, with signs reading, "Every child deserves a mom and dad" and "vote for holy matrimony." Opponents marched down a roadway in front of the court, with signs reading, "Every child deserves a mom and dad" and "vote for holy matrimony."
The Supreme Court is raising the prospect that it will find a way out of the case over California's ban on same-sex marriage without issuing a substantial ruling on whether gays have a right to marry. The Supreme Court is raising the prospect that it will find a way out of the case over California's ban on same-sex marriage without issuing a substantial ruling on whether gays have a right to marry.
WASHINGTON -

A lawyer seeking an end to California's ban on same-sex marriage is comparing it to bans on interracial marriages, a prohibition the Supreme Court declared illegal decades ago.

In charged back-and-forth exchanges with justices, lawyer Theodore Olson said that the court should look to its 1967 Loving case, when the court invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

Chief Justice John Roberts told Olson that it seemed supporters of gay marriage were trying to change the meaning of the word "marriage" by including same-sex couples.

Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested that throwing out California's ban could take the Supreme Court into "uncharted waters." But Olson responded that the court did just that when it threw out bans on interracial marriage.

Justices will make a decision later this year.

Future Of The Case

The Supreme Court is raising the prospect that it will find a way out of the case over California's ban on same-sex marriage without issuing a substantial ruling on whether gays have a right to marry.

Several justices, including some liberals who seem open to gay marriage, raised doubts Tuesday that the case is properly before them. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the potentially decisive vote on a closely divided court, suggested that the court could dismiss the case with no ruling at all.

Both Sides Heard Outside Court

Both inside and outside the Supreme Court today, both sides of the gay marriage debate have been heard.

As justices considered California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, supporters of those marriages were outside the court, carrying pictures of gay weddings and families, and holding signs that read, "Marriage is a constitutional right."

Opponents marched down a roadway in front of the court, with signs reading, "Every child deserves a mom and dad" and "vote for holy matrimony."

Two women from Virginia had matching signs with their California marriage license on one side and a picture of their wedding ceremony on the other. They had married in California during the 142 days when it was legal in the state. One of the women said the court decision "can change our lives tremendously."

Among those demonstrating against gay marriage was a Pennsylvania woman who was there with her teenage children. Christine Clark says she knows and loves gay people, but does not believe in gay marriage. And a man from Rhode Island, who said foes of gay marriage are the "silent majority," said, "The whole country does not want this."

What are your thoughts on the issue?  Vote in the poll to the right and leave a comment below to join the discussion.

Nevada Considers Paving Way For Same-sex Marriages

Beverly Sevcick has been in a relationship with the same person for over four decades. They've taken vacations, gone through trying sicknesses and could fill many photo albums with their memories.

But because they are lesbians, they can't get married.

"We've done what most couples hope to do - we've grown old together - but we still think something is missing," Sevcick told members of the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections Tuesday. "For me, if you love someone you marry that person. It breaks my heart that I cannot marry to a person I love so much and have spent the last 4 decades with. Mary is my everything."

Sevcick testified during the hearing on Senate Joint Resolution 13 which repeals a Nevada constitutional provision that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Because it's a constitutional amendment, it must be approved by legislators this year and in 2015 before going to voters in 2016.

The hearing came on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments on California's ban on same sex marriages. In California same-sex couples briefly had the right to marry before voters adopted a constitutional amendment in November 2008 that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. A federal appeals court later struck down Proposition 8 setting the stage for the high court review.

"It's not just about being able to stand up and say 'I do.' It's not about standing up in your house of worship and being recognized. It's about being recognized by your own country," said Assemblyman James Healy, D-Las Vegas. Healy is a sponsor of the resolution and openly gay.

Healy said his mother did not agree with him that same sex couples should be married until he told her heterosexual couples have 1,138 benefits through marriage that same sex couples lack. Until leaders enact same sex marriage legislation, saying the Pledge of Allegiance is half-hearted, Healy said.

"Then - and only then - we can stand on our floors of our respective houses and salute our flag and say 'liberty and justice for all' and finally mean it," he told committee members.

Supporters also said allowing same sex marriages in Nevada - the marriage capital of the world - would bring in more money for the state.

Several ministers testified that marriage is not a Biblical matter, and numerous tweets during the hearing alluded to relationships between Biblical characters that could have been gay, but a Silver Springs pastor vehemently disagreed.

"'Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church' is in there," Pastor Dick Cervi said. "But from cover to cover a relationship between a man and a man is never defined using the same terms."

Cervi referenced George Washington's farewell address in which he said religion and morality were "indispensable supports" for America, and he cautioned lawmakers from failing to heed the first president.

"Even though the whim of the people is for it, I caution you against it," he said. "If we take morality out of the question, as George Washington warned, the nation will go down."

With some Senate Republicans backing the resolution, it stands a good chance of clearing the Senate.

"It's time to stop playing politics with other people's lives and let people decide what they want to do with their lives," said Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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