This was a hugely important week for LGBT Americans as well as advocates for equality for all citizens because the Supreme Court heard cases regarding California's Proposition 8 as well as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It was also, however, a very important week for the Supreme Court. The Court may or may not decide to overturn both of these discriminatory pieces of legislation, but it is clear that the arc of history is again bending towards equality. LGBT Americans are winning; and those that would continue to seek to deny equality to all Americans are losing. This puts the Court in the position of either helping to bring about an inevitable, and positive, change, or of being conspicuous in support of bigoted laws and prejudices from another era.
While the decision by the California Supreme Court upheld a discriminatory ballot initiative, it should not have been a surprise. The vote by the California Supreme Court was not even close as Proposition 8 was upheld by a 6-1 majority. The lone dissenter was Justice Carlos Moreno. Much of the coverage of the decision overlooked the important point that the vote was on, excuse the pun, straight party lines. All six judges who voted in the affirmative had been initially appointed by Republican governors. Moreno is the only Supreme Court justice in California appointed by a Democrat.
As President Obama prepares to make his first Supreme Court appointment, the religious right appears to be shifting gears away from focusing on abortion rights and turning their attention more to the question of gay marriage. This reflects a broader strategy on the part of the Christian Right to make fighting against marriage equality the top issue on their agenda.