The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Proposition 8 today, one of the two current cases the court is considering on marriage equality.
Prop 8, or the California Marriage Protection Act, was a ballot proposition and constitutional amendment passed in 2008 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman in California. The Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals both found the amendment unconstitutional, proving it violates the U.S. government’s fundamental codified concepts of equal treatment and liberty.
“Homophobia and discrimination trickles down to our youth, informed by the actions of the adults in our society,” Chris Hayden, Communications Director at the No H8 Campaign, told Campus Progress. “By instituting laws like Prop 8, those adults were sending a message to our young people that same-sex couples are somehow lesser than heterosexual couples, and that it's perfectly acceptable to put a minority's civil rights up for a vote.”
The impending Supreme Court decision has the power to inspire a lot of hope in LGBT youth, Ross Murray Director of News and Faith Initiatives at GLAAD told Campus Progress.
“By saying that an action like prop 8 was unconstitutional the Supreme Court would be telling [LGBT] individuals they are full citizens of society," he said, "they have dignity, they have worth, and they deserve respect from the government and society as a whole.”
Murray explained that younger generations who are steadily taking on leadership roles in government often have a more open and accepting view of the LGBT community.
Thousands of young people joined a rally in front of the Supreme Court today. Hillary Anderson, a student from Indiana University was one of those thousands.
“Youth have been very important in this movement," she told Campus Progress. "If you look at voter turnout in elections, that it tells you everything you need to know about where the country is headed—the power young people have and the difference they’re going to make.”
A recent poll released by ABC shows that 81 percent of individuals under age 30 support marriage equality.
“The more you can speak out and share your story, and share why supporting LGBT equality, why marriage equality, why non discrimination policy in terms of employment, why hate crime legislation, why transgender inclusion—making sure you are speaking out about your values—is the thing that is going to change the culture of our country and change the laws and policies that we have that undergird that culture” Murray said.
This is the same angle the No H8 Campaign has taken in their advocacy for LGBT equality.
“The NOH8 Campaign works to educate society at large by putting a face to the fight for equality.” Hayden said. “By putting a familiar face affected by discriminatory legislation like Prop 8 and the ideology behind it, the issue becomes personal and relative to those who might not have considered they know someone affected.”
The Supreme Court justices seemed split on marriage equality today. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who many see as the critical justice in this case, suggested the court should strike down Prop 8 but not rule broadly on the issue. The justices will vote on the case later this week at the Justices Conference. The case could go in a few different directions right now. If at least six justices decide now is not the right time to rule on the constitutionality of Prop 8, as the SCOTUSblog reported, they could dismiss the case. If that happens, the lower court's ruling will stand, but just in California. It's likely if this happens, marriage equality will end up back in the Supreme Court in the future.
The court could also simply rule on the case. If that happens, there are a few ways it could rule, and there may be a more clear indication of what that could look like after the Defense of Marriage Act hearing scheduled for tomorrow.
“It’s so important to show the court and all Americans that they country is moving forward," Adam Bik Director of Online Programs for the Courage Campaign told Campus Progress, at the steps of the Supreme Court today. "A new generation of people believes that it doesn’t matter if you’re gay as long as you love them.”