MANHATTAN (KSNT) – With demonstrators on both sides of the issue making themselves heard outside, the Supreme Court has heard arguments on whether same-sex couples should have the right to marry.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose vote could decide the issue, was the author of the court’s three earlier rulings supporting gay rights and he spoke today of the principles that guided those decisions.
But he also worried aloud about changing the definition of marriage from the union of a man and a woman, “This definition has been with us for millennia and it’s very difficult for the court to say oh well, we know better.”
Chief Justice John Roberts directed questions to both sides that made it hard to predict where he will come down. Roberts said gay couples seeking to marry aren’t trying to join the institution of marriage, they’re trying to “change what the institution is.”
But he also said “if Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, sue can marry him and Tom can’t.” and he asked, “Why isn’t that a case of sexual discrimination?”
More than a dozen Kansas couples are closely watching events in Washington. That’s because they are same-sex couples who have married legally in the state, even though Kansas voters banned those marriages.
For most the first year of marriage is known to be the “hardest”. But for Joleen Spain and Darci Pottroff who have been together for more than 20 years and never thought marriage was in the picture, the first few months have been, “great I mean, wonderful, for both of us,” says Spain.
KSNT was with them in November when they became the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Riley County. They were surrounded by family then and continue to have their support now. “The feedback from our kids was greater than I could have imagined,” says Pottroff.
But the right that Darci and Joleen had to get married right here on this front lawn, is something many across the nation are still fighting for.
The US Supreme Court is considering whether to allow states the right to ban same-sex marriage. Kansas is one of those states banning same-sex marriage. A federal judge ruled in November that law is unconstitutional. So Kansas’ conservatives are closely watching what the high court does.
So are Darci and Joleen, “We’re still fighting-fighting for equality, we may be married, but the state doesn’t recognize it.” They hope the Supreme Court’s decision goes their way.
Late last year Governor Sam Brownback said the state will continue defending its same-sex marriage ban. He said 70% of Kansans voting on the measure wanted the ban.