I weigh in only to deal with the erroneous legal interpretations posted to date in this thread, specifically regarding the constitutionality of not recognizing same-sex marriages.
Quote from Otto:
This quote shows ignorance of what happened in the Romer case, as well as ignorance of how the equal protection clause of the Fourteeth Amendment is applied during review of state actions. All methods of discriminating between groups of people are subject to ‘equal protection scrutiny’. The question that usually determines the issue presented is the level of scrutiny which will be applied. When a law burdens a ‘fundamental right’ or targets a ‘suspect class’, the USSC will impose a strict scrutiny, rarely allowing such laws to pass muster. Otherwise, a law which does not burden such a right, or target such a class, will be allowed if it is rationally related to a legitimate legislative end. Within this rationale, I cannot keep blacks from going to my public school (Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)) , but I can be required as an illigitimate child to obtain a court-order of paternity while my parent is alive in order to take as an heir (Lalli v. Lalli, 439 U. S. 259 (1978)). Similarly, I cannot as a state prevent married persons from using contraception devices, which would burden the fundamental right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965)), but I can limit the number of children for which parents can receive AFDC payments, because there is no fundamental right to receive welfare (Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471 (1970)).
In Romer v. Evans, __ U.S. __ (1996), the USSC held Colorado’s Amendment 2, passed by voter referendum in 1992, to be unconstitutional. Amendment 2 had attempted to add to the Constitution of the State of Colorado a provision which precluded all legislative, executive, or judicial action at any level of state or local government designed to protect the status of persons based on their “homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships.” In striking down the amendment, the USSC held that the amendment was overbroad, and served no legitimate government interest. It should be noted what the decision did NOT do: it did not hold that homosexuals were a ‘suspect class’ entitled to strict protection, nor did it hold that the amendment infringed a fundamental right. This is important, because the Colorado Supreme Court *had held that the Amendment infringed the fundamental right of gays to be involved in the political process (Evans v. Romer, 854 P.2d 1270 (Colo. 1993).
This should be no surprise. The 6-3 majority opinion was written by Justice Kennedy and signed onto by Justice O’Connor. The conservative Justices Scalia, Rhenquist and Thomas dissented. Had the liberals held out for a strict scrutiny, the moderately conservative Kennedy and O’Connor would have bolted the opinion.
Where does this leave us? The USSC did on at least two occaisions determine that there is a right to marry or un-marry (Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371 (1971); Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374 (1978)). However, where there is minimal infringement of the right to marry, statutes can use marital status as a classification, as in Califano v. Jobst, 434 U.S. 47 (1977), where it affected the ability to continue receiving SS disability benefits as a disable child of a deceased beneficiary after the surviving parent remarried. No recent decisions have addressed the status of marriage as a ‘fundamental’ right.
Romer is not an open invitation to bring to the USSC laws that discriminate homosexuals from heterosexuals. It is clear that the Court will review such laws with their ever-increasingly apparent substantive review, a willingness to second-guess legislatures as to what they attempt to do, be it protective of minorities or majorities. In light of the refusal this term to strictly scrutinize age-discrimination, it is doubtful that the Court would strictly scrutinize gay-discrimination. Under the rational relationship test, it is not clear whether a law preventing same-sex marriage would be found to be unconstitutional. Presumably, the issue will be further developed at the state level, in front of more liberally minded tribunals.