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Opening Arguments

Waiting on John and Anthony

That delay everyone was expecting has finally been announced:

INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers will not take up a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriages this year, leaders of the Republican-dominated Indiana General Assembly said Thursday.

The legislature will wait on same-sex marriage amendment until 2014, state Senate President Pro Tem David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma said.

The two said they wanted to see how the U.S. Supreme Court would rule on the issue this summer on the legality of California's similar constitutional amendment and a federal law that denies benefits to same-sex couples.

Most of the stories just throw that line in there --"wait to see how the Supreme Court will rule" -- without bothering to explore just how that might be.

I doubt the court will do anything so sweeping that it would moot any action by the Indiana legislature, such as issuing a blanket approval of same-sex marriage that would have to be honored in all 50 states. It's more likely the justices will take a somewhat narrower approach, such as allowing that each state can approve same-sex marriage if it wants to, but not saying such unions have to be honored by other states under the Constitution's full faith and credit clause. (States could also choose not to allow gay marriage, of course.) Such a federalist approach would also argue against the court upholding the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act.

Until the court's decision on Obamacare, conventional wisdom would have said that four justices would vote to expand gay-marriage rights, four would vote not to, and the outcome would depend on which side of the bed Anthomy Kennedy got up on when the vote was cast. But John Roberts has to be considered another wild car now, I think. Outcome prediction has become a little more problematic.