The Supreme Court continues debate over same-sex marriage

“In 1967, the High Court overturned bans on interracial marriage,” said Watson. “This seems to be a precedent.”

Published Apr. 04, 2013

Robert Watson, B.S., M.P.A., Ph.D.Last week, discussions regarding our nation’s definition of marriage and Prop. 8 began. The answers now rest in the hands of nine United States Supreme Court justices.

“Prop. 8 is an effort in California that banned same-sex marriage,” Robert Watson, a professor of American Studies in Lynn University's College of Arts and Sciences, said. “It is not uncommon for an issue like this at the state level to go to the Supreme Court. Currently laws vary state-to-state. The High Court’s ruling is likely to have serious spill-over effects.”

In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law that denies full federal benefits to same-sex couples, was implemented. The question at stake is: will the justices maintain or overturn DOMA?

“The key argument is the constitutional notion of ‘equal protection under the law,’” Watson said. “This would suggest that states do not have the right to deny marriage to a particular class of people. However, the four conservative justices question whether or not the Supreme Court ought to be weighing in on a state’s rights issue.”

According to Watson, we shouldn’t expect a speedy verdict from the Court. “It could take one to three months to decide this case,” said Watson. “At present, we know how eight of the nine justices will vote in regards to keeping or overturning DOMA. Kennedy will be the swing vote.”

Several organizations, including Lynn since 2005, offer domestic partner benefits to their employees. “Domestic partner benefits are a step toward full marriage equality, but only a step,” said Watson. “The benefits don’t entitle same-sex couples to federal programs of marriage like social security and bankruptcy, among others.”

“In 1967, the High Court overturned bans on interracial marriage. This seems to be a precedent, in that is it the High Court’s right to weigh in on such issues,” Watson said. “History shows that there has been a gradual move toward social inclusiveness and an expansion of basic rights.” 

More on Watson

Robert Watson, a professor of American Studies in Lynn University's College of Arts and Sciences, is one of the foremost experts and authors on first ladies, presidents, and Florida politics and voting issues. He is well versed in the arguments being presented to the Supreme Court of the United States regarding Prop8.

Watson has published 34 books and hundreds of articles and chapters and is a frequent media commentator for national as well as international outlets. Watson offers approximately 125 public lectures and town halls annually, serves as the political analyst for Palm Beach’s NBC affiliate (WPTV), and writes a Sunday column for the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, among other community and media activities.

He is frequently interviewed by local and national TV, print and radio media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, USA Today and The New York Times, addressing topics surrounding the first ladies of today, yesterday and tomorrow, how history may judge former President Bush (and the war on terrorism), how past White House scandals have not affected the nation, the accomplishments and criticisms of President Obama, the deficit and other political issues and policies.