Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Gay Marriage

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the national debate on same-sex marriage. It soon became clear that the Supreme Court justices seemed deeply divided regarding one of the greatest civil rights issues of the century: whether the Constitution allows same-sex couples to marry.

The justices had conflicting views on historical and biological matters, constitutional interpretation, and tradition, the democratic process and whether the courts have a right to effectuate social change.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy voiced his concerns regarding changing a concept of marriage that has existed for millennia. He later expressed his concerns over excluding same-sex couples from what he said was a noble and sacred institution.

Chief Justice John C. Roberts Jr. had qualms about halting the fast-moving debate on same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that marriage was a fundamental liberty, and Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that allowing gay marriage wouldn't harm heterosexual couples.

At the beginning of the oral arguments, Chief Justice Roberts said that he looked up the definition of marriage, and that he couldn't find one written before a dozen years ago that didn't define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Chief Justice Roberts said that if they succeed, that definition will no longer be operable. He said that they are not seeking to join the institution, they are seeking to change it.

Justice Kennedy, who many people believe will be the swing vote, was skeptical as gay marriage advocates argued their case. He pointed out how the definition of marriage has been with us for millennia. He said it's very difficult for the courts to say that they know better.

Though the court has been cautious about addressing same-sex marriage up until recently, a historical decision is expected from the courts in about two months.