“I don’t think we’ve ever had an occasion where the Supreme Court has had so many gay rights cases knocking at its door,” said Davidson, whose gay legal advocacy group represents Golinski. “That in and of itself shows how far we’ve come.”
The Supreme Court also is scheduled to discuss Friday whether it should take two more long-simmering cases dealing with relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
One is an appeal of two lower court rulings that struck down California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. The other is a challenge to an Arizona law that made state employees in same-sex relationships ineligible for domestic partner benefits.
The last time the court confronted a gay rights case was in 2010, when the justices voted 5-4 to let stand lower court rulings holding that a California law school could deny recognition to a Christian student group that does not allow gay members.
The time before that was the court’s landmark 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which declared state anti-sodomy laws to be an unconstitutional violation of personal privacy.
Brigham Young University law professor Lynn Wardle, who testified before Congress when lawmakers were considering the Defense of Marriage Act 16 years ago, said he still thinks the law passes constitutional muster.
“Congress has the power to define for itself domestic relationships, including defining relationships for purposes of federal programs,” Wardle said.
At the same time, he said, the gay rights landscape has shifted radically since 1996, citing this month’s election of the first sitting president to declare support for same-sex marriage and four state ballot measures being decided in favor of gay rights activists.
“This is the gay moment, momentum is building,” Wardle said. “The politics are profound, and politics influence what the court does.”