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Potential DOMA and Prop 8 Outcomes Explained: HRC Launches SCOTUS Action Center

Wednesday Jun 12, 2013
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In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act which will likely be announced in the coming weeks, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) has launched an online resource to take action, spread the word and educate marriage equality supporters and potential allies.

An image designed by HRC to be shared by supporters via social networks, briefly explains both cases and the impact of four potential outcomes.

Windsor v. US
The case challenging the federal government’s refusal to recognize marriages of same-sex couples because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Hollingsworth v. Perry
The case challenging Proposition 8, California’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage within the state.

While there are a number of different ways in which the Supreme Court could rule in both cases. HRC spells out four likely scenarios, but only the Court’s opinions later this year will provide definitive answers.

Scenario 1 - The Big Win
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Windsor (DOMA) and gives a broad victory to Perry (Prop 8), both the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 are struck down. In addition, depending on how wide-ranging the Perry decision is, every other state marriage ban in the country could be overturned - potentially resulting in marriage equality nationwide.

Scenario 2 - A Narrower Win
If the Court rules in favor of Windsor and gives Perry a narrow victory, either on the merits or on standing, both DOMA and Prop 8 are struck down. Marriage equality will return to California. Depending on the wording of the Perry decision, marriage equality may also come to states that currently have broad civil union or domestic partnership laws, but leave marriage bans in other states untouched.

Scenario 3 - Win on Prop 8 Only
If the Court upholds DOMA but strikes down Prop8, marriage equality will return to California and perhaps come to other states, depending on the scope of the ruling - but legally married gay and lesbian couples will still be denied the more than 1,000 federal rights and benefits of marriage.

Scenario 4 - Win on DOMA Only
If the Court strikes down DOMA but upholds Prop 8, legally married gay and lesbian couples will begin to receive the more than 1,000 federal rights and benefits of marriage, but state marriage bans will remain. Marriage equality will still be legal in 12 states and the District of Columbia.


This image, which was designed to be shared via social media, is part of HRC’s recently launched SCOTUS Action Center, an online resource described by HRC as a "one-stop-shop to stay engaged and to help amplify the support for loving, committed same-sex couples."

In addition to providing updates on both marriage equality cases, HRC’s SCOTUS Action Center gives supporters the opportunity to have their voices be heard by signing their Millions of Marriage Petition or use HRC’s online tool that merges HRC’s red equality symbol with profile photos to take part in their Picturing Equality campaign launched across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

According to HRC’s website, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows a record high of 58 percent of registered voters nationwide support marriage equality. Moreover, 64 percent of these voters say that the constitution should be the basis for establishing a right to marry for same-sex couples compared to individual states.

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