Local impact of Supreme Court's same-sex marriage rulings

While the Supreme Court decision Wednesday recognizes same-sex couples at the federal level, it leaves the definition of marriage up to states.

In the case of California's Proposition 8, the justices didn't hand down a sweeping ruling about the legality of gay marriage.

"It simply said that the people who appealed the case did not have legal standing," said Brian Powell, an Indiana University Sociology Professor. "And, so what that basically meant was the Supreme Court didn't really rule whether the prohibition of same-sex marriage is constitutional or not."

Both Indiana and Michigan already have laws banning gay marriage. So, the ruling won't have an immediate impact on the states.

But, lawmakers are already debating what their next steps should be.

Some in Indiana fear their law prohibiting same-sex marriage could be overturned in state court if it's not written into the constitution. A constitutional amendment banning gay marriage overwhelming passed in 2011.

"The General Assembly has passed the constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage one time," said State Senator John Broden (D-10th District). "But, our state constitution requires that the General Assembly pass it in two different sessions."

Indiana lawmakers are expected to consider the constitutional amendment again in 2014.

In a statement, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says he's "confident the matter will come before the General Assembly and be placed on a referenda ballot for voter consideration."

Republican Governor Mike Pence also released a statement on the court's decision saying, "Given the opportunity, I am confident that Hoosiers will reaffirm our commitment to traditional marriage and will consider this important question with civility and respect for the values and dignity of all the people of our state."

While Bosma and Pence want the amendment placed on the 2014 ballot, Broden says lawmakers have more important issues that need their attention.

"Many legislators have reached the conclusion that our statute already prohibits same-sex marriage and that law has been found to be constitutional," he said. "So, I think many legislators feel frankly we have more critical issues to address such as job creation, economic development, and education."

In Michigan, efforts are underway to repeal the state's ban on gay marriage. Supporters are trying to collect signatures and raise money to get the question on the 2016 ballot.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said in a statement he respects the Michigan Constitution, but says if the law is repealed by voters, he'll respect that decision, too.

Powell says there is still a lot of confusion surrounding the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8. He believes the decision on whether banning gay marriage is unconstitutional will end up back in court.

"As a country, it seems very bizarre, very odd that people can just travel like 30 minutes from one state to another and all of the sudden lose their benefits or their rights of marriage," Powell said. "That they all the sudden switch from being considered a real family, an authentic family, to one that is not. I'm fully convinced we're going to see many other cases in the next few years in which there will be a resolution to this inconsistency."


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