Pastors weigh in on gay-marriage court cases

Bryan Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, rallied in support of Prop. 8 at the Supreme Court Tuesday, and said it’s “egregious” that this fight is happening so close to Easter. (Hamil Harris/The Washington Post)

On Tuesday, Supreme Court justices questioned whether same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry. On Wednesday, the court will hear arguments on whether same-sex couples who were married in states that have legalized gay marriage can be denied federal recognition and religious leaders on both sides of the potentially landmark cases are making their stances known.

Wednesday’s case, United States v. Windsor, involves Edith Windsor, whose wife, Thea Spyer, died in 2009, after the couple had been together for more than 40 years. Windsor had to pay $363,053 in estate taxes on Spyer’s estate, although a married heterosexual couple would not face such a burden

On Tuesday, Supreme Court justices questioned whether same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry. On Wednesday, the court will hear arguments on whether same-sex couples who were married in states that have legalized gay marriage can be denied federal recognition.

Bishop Harry Jackson, who led the unsuccessful fight to prevent same-sex marriage in Washington, D.C., said Americans should have a right to vote on the same-sex marriage issue.

“In D.C., we were denied the fundamental right to vote on such an important issue,” Jackson said Tuesday during a march and rally organized by the National Organization for Marriage. “This is a matter of somebody wanting an institution to fundamentally change for the benefit of a small group.”

But the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights veteran and host of a talk show, sees it differently.

“We either have civil rights for  everyone or no one,” he said. “Consenting adults  don’t  need our permission to exercise their rights. We have got to have firm beliefs in what we believe in,  but be mature  enough to abide by what others believe.”

On Tuesday, the justices heard arguments on Proposition 8, a ballot initiative in 2008 in which voters in California blocked same-sex marriages there.

Frank Schubert,  the political strategist who organized the California campaign to prohibit same-sex marriages, came to Washington to join the rally organized by the National Organization for Marriage.

“We are  very encouraged from the way the arguments went,” he said of the case, known as Hollingsworth v. Perry. “It is a critical time. Every  generation is called  to a great challenge, and this is our generation’s challenge. Marriage is the foundation of society.’’

Rev. Derek McCoy, president of the Maryland Family Alliance, fought last year against same-sex marriage in Maryland, and lost that fight, both in the state legislature and in a public referendum. But he said Tuesday that he doesn’t think the Supreme Court will make a big move in either of the two court cases.

“It doesn’t seem like they want to make a sweeping case right now,” McCoy said.

Hamil Harris is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of The Washington Post.
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