U.S. Supreme Court appears sharply divided on gay marriage

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After more than two decades of litigation over the issue, the U.S. Supreme Court seemed divided on whether the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. In the 2-1/2 hours of oral

U.S. Supreme Court appears sharply divided on gay marriage

After more than two decades of litigation over the issue, the U.S. Supreme Court seemed divided on whether the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.

In the 2-1/2 hours of oral arguments in the potentially historic case, the nine justices peppered lawyers on both sides of the issue with questions.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE, JOHN ROBERTS, SAYING:

“I mean, closing of debate can close minds, and — and it will have a consequence on how this new institution is — is accepted. People feel very differently about something if they have a chance to vote on it than if it’s imposed on them by — by the courts.”

But pivotal conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the deciding vote in close cases, seemed to inch cautiously toward legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, ANTHONY KENNEDY, SAYING:

“But that — that assumes that same-sex couples could not have the more noble purpose, and that’s the whole point. Same-sex couples say, of course, we understand the nobility and the sacredness of the marriage. We know we can’t procreate, but we want the other attributes of it in order to show that we, too, have a dignity that can be fulfilled.”

That seemed to give hope to gay marriage advocates and plaintiffs leaving the court greeted by an estimated 1,000 supporters.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) APRIL DEBOER, MICHIGAN PLAINTIFF SAYING:

“It’s been an honor, and hopefully, we’re on the right side of history and hopefully, our kids will now have equal protection.”

(SOUNDBITE) (English) KENTUCKY PLAINTIFF GREG BOURKE SAYING:

“The easy thing for our families to do would have just been to pack up and leave the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but we are proud Kentuckians, and we don’t feel like we should have to leave our state just so that we can get the same treatment that other couples get in other parts of the country.”

(SOUNDBITE) (English) OHIO PLAINTIFF JIM OBERGEFELL SAYING:

“I walked up these steps and into that courtroom today as an American citizen. And I read those words engraved over the front door, ‘Equal justice, under law.'”

Opponents to same-sex marriage say marriage legality should be decided by states, not judges, and argue it is an affront to traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

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