Though a divided panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that Proposition 8 was an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, it stayed its ruling while the parties appealed. Therefore, marriage license will not be granted to same-sex couples in California while the Supreme Court considers the case.
Congressional Democrats and Republicans have long clashed over the 1996 federal law, but both sides agree that the high court should step in. For Democrats, it is a matter of doing away with a statute that they say violates equal protection guarantees by withholding federal benefits from same-sex couples who were legally married under state law. Several federal appeals courts have agreed.
For Republicans, the law serves a legitimate governmental interest by promoting the traditional definition of marriage and encouraging family values, such as child-rearing with both a mother and a father.
In a filing at the Supreme Court in June, lawyers for House Republicans made clear that they prefer a swift resolution to the legal debate, particularly as challenges over the marriage law have emerged in more courts.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.