This post was updated June 25, 2013.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hand down hotly anticipated verdicts on two cases related to gay marriage: a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples legally married in their states, and a challenge to California's Proposition 8, the November 2008 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in that state.
Gay-marriage advocates are cautiously optimistic both cases will go their way. On DOMA, multiple lower-court judges, many of them Republican-appointed, have already ruled the 1996 law unconstitutional, and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, thought to be the potential swing vote, seemed sympathetic to the anti-DOMA case during oral arguments in March.
There is considerably more uncertainty about how the Prop 8 case might turn out. That case was argued by the bipartisan team of Theodore Olson and David Boies, the Republican and Democrat superlawyers who opposed one another in Bush v. Gore. At a recent event sponsored by the center-left think tank Third Way, Boies discussed the many possible outcomes.
1. Gay Marriage for All! A lower court struck down Prop 8 on broad U.S. constitutional grounds, ruling that the gay-marriage ban violated equal protection and possibly due process. If the Supreme Court affirms this argument, it would make gay marriage legal nationwide, Boies said, "because, obviously, the Constitution applies to all 50 states."