On Jan. 16, the Supreme Court announced it will decide whether same-sex couples have the right to marry under the U.S. Constitution. Since then, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department have been working on a "friend of the court" brief that would rise in support of marriage equality.
“We expect to file a ‘friend of the court’ brief in these cases that will urge the Supreme Court to make marriage equality a reality for all Americans,” Holder said. “It is time for our nation to take another critical step forward to ensure the fundamental equality of all Americans — no matter who they are, where they come from, or whom they love.”
In November 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor. Since then, all federal courts have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. The four cases going to the Supreme Court are the only states to not have their same-sex marriage bans deemed unconstitutional. The same-sex marriage bans to be reviewed are from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
Holder also commented on the historic nature of the November 2013 ruling.
“After the Justice Department’s decision not to defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court sent a powerful message that Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law,” he said. “This landmark decision marked a historic step toward equality for all American families.”
The New Yorker notes marriage equality laws currently exist in 36 states, home to 70 percent of Americans.
The court, expected to review the cases in April and decide in June, will review two issues, notes Inquisitr.
First, whether or not the Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and second, whether or not a state that does not allow same-sex marriage must recognize a legal marriage that took place in another state.
It has been expected that if the answer to the first question is yes, then the second would be moot as every state would have to issue marriage licenses.
“As these cases proceed, the Department of Justice will remain committed to ensuring that the benefits of marriage are available as broadly as possible,” Holder declared. “And we will keep striving to secure equal treatment for all members of society — regardless of sexual orientation.”