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12 Best Gay Marriage Moments at the Supreme Court

5. Cooper on why voters acted reasonably in imposing the ban: “Consider the California voter, in 2008, in the ballot booth, with the question before her whether or not this age-old bedrock social institution should be fundamentally redefined, and knowing that there’s no way that she or anyone else could possibly know what the long-term implications of — of profound redefinition of a bedrock social institution would be. That is reason enough, your honor, that would hardly be irrational for that voter to say, I believe that this experiment, which is now only fairly four years old, even in Massachusetts, the oldest state that is conducting it, to say, I think it better for California to hit the pause button and await additional information from the jurisdictions where this experiment is still maturing.”

6. There was laughter over a hypothetical posed by Justice Elena Kagan to Cooper: “What about heterosexual couples who marry over the age of 55, past the age of procreation?”

Cooper: “Your honor, even with respect of 55, it is very rare that both ... parties to the couple are infertile and ...”

Kagan replied, to laughter, “I can just assure you, if both the woman and the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out of that marriage.”

Scalia later interjected, “I suppose we could have a questionnaire at the marriage desk when people come in to get the marriage — you know, ‘Are you fertile or are you not fertile?’”

7. Scalia: “You are asking us to impose this on the whole country.”

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.: “No, respectfully Justice Scalia, we are not.”

8. Justice Samuel Alito, admonishing Verrilli’s nuanced stand on whether a gay marriage ban might be OK in some states but not others: “I don’t think you can have it both ways.”

9. Olson, on the heart of his argument against bans on gay marriage: “It walls-off gays and lesbians from marriage, the most important relation in life, according to this court, thus stigmatizing a class of Californians based upon their status and labeling their most cherished relationships as second-rate, different, unequal and not OK.”

Chief Justice John Roberts: “When the institution of marriage developed historically, people didn’t get around and say, let’s have this institution, but let’s keep out homosexuals.”

10. Scalia: “I’m curious, when — when did — when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the 14th Amendment was adopted?

Olson: “When did it become unconstitutional to prohibit interracial marriages? When did it become unconstitutional to assign children to separate schools?”

11. Olson, on why the label marriage is important: “It is like you were to say you can vote, you can travel, but you may not be a citizen. There are certain labels in this country that are very, very critical. You could have said in the Loving case, what — you can’t get married, but you can have an interracial union.”

12. Alito: “On a question like that, of such fundamental importance, why should it not be left for the people, either acting through initiatives and referendums or through their elected public officials?”

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