Prop 8 and DOMA Facts


PolitiFact has put together a Proposition 8 facts and primer cheat sheet: 

— On March 26, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a challenge to Prop 8. 

— The next day, the justices will hear arguments on a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). 

— The two cases ask the basic question: "How skeptical should courts be under equal protection principles about laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians?"

— The cases take place against a backdrop of "striking reversals" in public opinion about same-sex marriage. 

— Currently, nine states allow same-sex marriages: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington state, plus the District of Columbia.

— Another nine states; California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island provide "same-sex spousal rights."

— In the DOMA case, United States vs. Windsor, Edith "Edie" Windsor lived with partner Thea Spyer for 44 years (and married in Canada in 2007). After Spyer's death in 2009, Windsor had to pay taxes on her spouse's estate rather than inheriting it outright (as heterosexual spouses do). Windsor sued the government, arguing that DOMA was unconstitutional because it violated the Constitution's equal protection clause. 

— The U.S. Department of Justice, under President Barack Obama, declined not to defend the law, leaving the case to lawyers hired by a panel of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

— In the Prop 8 case, Hollingsworth vs. Perry, two same-sex couples — Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo — were denied marriage licenses. They sued, claiming that the Constitution's equal protection clause prohibits the state of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

— The administration of California's Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, declined to defend the law.