The wait for same-sex couples is likely over on Wednesday, as the Supreme Court is expected to issue its opinion on Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Also expected on the agenda is a decision on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted in 1996 and restricts federal marriage benefits and required inter-state marriage recognition to only opposite-sex marriages in the United States.

Proposition 8 was passed by California voters in November 2008. It added a new provision to the California Constitution, providing that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” But this was just the beginning of the ongoing fight in the state.

The legality of the measure has made its way through California courts since being passed by voters. In August of 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Prop 8, ruling that it violated both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel affirmed that decision, which led to the case being heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.

There are several ways in which the Supreme Court could rule in the case – the court could affirm the decision by the Ninth Circuit, which would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. The court could also uphold Proposition 8 as valid, meaning same-sex marriage would remain illegal in the state of California. It’s unlikely, although possible, that the high court could also make a broad ruling, legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to come down shortly after 7:00am our time on Wednesday. We’ll have more when it does.



Photo Credit: Kurt Lowenstein Educational Center International Team, via Wikimedia