What to Know as Gay Marriage Goes Before Supreme Court
Arguments begin today on whether states can ban same-sex marriage
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2015 6:40 AM CDT
A rainbow-colored flag flies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, April 27, 2015.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – Arguments are set to begin this morning in Obergefell v. Hodges, a group of appeals from couples in four states that will force the Supreme Court to confront whether gay marriage is a constitutional right in all states, the Hill reports. Some things to know:

  • Per the AP, the court will hear extended arguments that are scheduled to last 2 ½ hours (90 minutes more than usual, the Hill notes). Also on the docket: to determine whether states that don't recognize gay marriage must recognize those performed in other states; currently, same-sex couples can marry in 36 states and DC, the AP reports.
  • The four states in this particular caseOhio, Tennessee, Michigan, and Kentucky—are among the 14 that don't allow same-sex marriage, the AP notes. A federal appeals court upheld bans in all four states in November.

  • At least 60 groups of both supporters and opponents of gay marriage have been camped outside the court for days to vie for a seat inside, ABC News reports. James Ryder, who came with his husband, told ABC "we really never thought we'd see it in our lifetime."
  • Religious leaders yesterday called for the removal of liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, per the Hill. The president of the Abiding Truth Ministries—who last week wrote on BarbWire that the "natural family" must be protected by an "angry mob" with "pitchforks and torches"—said Ginsburg and Kagan's officiations at same-sex marriages creates "an actual and blatant conflict of interest."
  • Ginsburg, the first Supreme Court justice to officiate at a same-sex wedding, has made no bones about her stance: In January, she predicted she had a "strong hunch" how this case will end up and that "I would be very surprised if the Supreme Court retreats from what it has said about same-sex unions."
  • Justice Anthony Kennedy, who's written the court's three previous decisions on gay rights, will as usual be under the microscope, the AP notes. Kennedy—who's been described by colleague Antonin Scalia as "a hand-wringer who agonizes over close cases," per the Los Angeles Times—has repeatedly employed the terms "dignity" and "decency" in his decisions.
  • Both sides seem to think the court will greenlight gay couples' rights. "We now perhaps are days away from this very court telling us that holy matrimony between one man and one woman … is merely a relic of a bygone era," one activist tells Politico. The ruling is expected in late June.