The Supreme Court struck down DOMA – the Defense of Marriage Act – and handed Proposition 8 back to a lower court – which both legitimize gay marriage. But, the routes the court took don't suggest a high court pro-gay marriage or pro-child crusade – yet.
If you’ve followed the news over the past week, you've probably noticed a shift in the very definition of the American family. As public opinion and state laws have evolved increasingly to tolerate and embrace gay marriage, so has the legal system – the Supreme Court this week invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act and effectively ended California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.
Gays and lesbians who want to marry and receive recognition under the law are the obvious winners. But that the Court has been expanding marriage recognition, rights, and protection to same-sex couples is a part of a bigger trend – an expansion of marriage that has positive effects for children specifically, says Adam Pertman, executive director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York.
"The fact is, there's lots of research indicating that the biggest beneficiaries of marriage are children," Mr. Pertman says. "They get social benefits, economic benefits – they get a big range of benefits from marriage. The list goes on and on."
Pertman, whose organization researches policies that affect adoption and works to improve adoption laws, doesn't think that the court has been swept up in a pro-gay marriage, pro-children crusade. He points to the different ways that justices arrived at their two important decisions this week.
"If you look at it ruling by ruling, the California [Prop 8] ruling, for instance, it has a very different rationale than the DOMA ruling," Pertman says. "Both seem to be saying: 'All families are created equal, and all children should be protected' — but [the] California [decision] didn't really say that, [it] said the litigants didn't have standing." (The court ruled that proponents of a ban on gay marriage passed by California voters did not have the right to defend that law in federal courts).