Digital Report: 2 Supreme Court Decisions Boost Gay Marriage

ABC News' Terry Moran, Rick Klein and Cecilia Vega on implications, reaction to historic ruling.
3:00 | 06/26/13

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Transcript for Digital Report: 2 Supreme Court Decisions Boost Gay Marriage
This is a special report from ABC news. Again that when you -- with an ABC news digital special report the Supreme Court. Has spoken the defense of marriage act known as don't month. Is dead unconstitutional. The court by a five to four vote. Says the federal law denying benefits to legally marry gay couples is -- -- Justice Anthony Kennedy who appeared skeptical of the law during oral arguments. Provide the swing vote he also wrote the majority opinion saying quote -- -- violates basic due process and equal protection principles. Applicable to the federal government. Then there was the decision or rather the lack thereof on California. Prop eight a statewide ban on gay marriage overturned by a state courts the Supreme Court has decided its defenders do not. Have the standing. To be in court that essentially means the state court decision stands for now. And same sex marriage is likely to become legal again in a state of California and you're looking at a live picture. Of city hall and San Francisco where the crowds gather there to hear that news that the Supreme Court has said in fact there is no standing. Against proposition eight and as has been described by the lieutenant governor in California. Same sex marriages are expected to resume within a month. That announcement coming just short time ago I want to bring in ABC's political director -- -- to talk about these two monumental decisions -- what are we hearing from lawmakers on Capitol Hill about these two major decisions. There's an immediate recognition that this is a major moment in the gay rights movement there is no question. That this is it significant in terms of its immediate ramifications but also in the sweep of history keep in mind that the defense of marriage act. Passed in the 1990s when Bill Clinton the democratic president's signing into law -- had bipartisan. Backing at the time and it has been a sea change over the last 1520 years in this country. It is now marked by the Supreme Court overturning its of the immediate impact of now knowing that the federal government. We'll have to recognize gay marriages that take place in states that legalize it. And in the California case because it was narrow it's not -- have implications for other states the California is the largest state in the country of course with San Francisco and other cities are a large number of gay people there waiting to get married. And the fact that we'll have those sites and those sounds as we heard from lieutenant governor of California within the next month or -- the resumption of marriages in the State's largest state. That I think is another signal moment so there's no question this is a historic day lawmakers will take some time to digest this and there will be immediate ramifications for them to deal with that the federal. Rick we've talked about the sea change for public opinion on same sex marriage and along with that change is also -- The president's stance. On not -- not defending don't but also his stance on same sex marriage have we heard a reaction from the president on his two rulings. The president reacted to the first ruling -- with an interest in tweet with the hash tag love is love he -- celebrating. The overturning of the defense of marriage act he wasn't active in national politics of the time this passage is that he has since. Said he opposed it there was no realistic effort to repeal its that this was the way that it was gonna come off the books and when he came out. Just about a year -- to endorse same sex marriage clearly wrapped up and that was the belief that the federal government. Shouldn't be in the business of defining what marriages in what it is and we haven't heard from him to my knowledge yet on the prop eight case. But imagine that he will be in a similar celebratory mood today it is some disappointment. That backers of same sex marriage will feel that there was any more sweeping ruling Justice Kennedy in a dissent in that case indicated he wanted to go further. And that's not happening today chief Justice Roberts comedy during the majority on that in making it narrow insane just in this case the court can't be considering this because the people who are defending this law can't be before this report they don't have a legal standing to be there that means in essence is that that of course in -- that gay marriage will become legal again in California. And yet at the same time of the Justice Kennedy that wrote the opinion in regards to goma. Regarding it being unconstitutional. Rick -- I ask you about the president because right now he is in Senegal this morning a country -- homosexuality. Is in fact illegal. A historical curiosity is something that he's gonna use though as a point during -- visit. I don't know the answer that yet I'd be surprised that he if he surprises is his his hosts. And by making explicit reference to that but I think -- be under some pressure to at least. Obliquely mentioned the fact that Senegal has this has a record on human rights that leaves much to be desired particularly. In the area gay rights the fact that he is headed Aaron will be -- within a few hours is interest in time he can't control -- heat -- getting more of a heads up about when these cases come down. -- anyone else but you'll have a statement we're led to believe we're told explicitly -- on the plane on the way over there they've been monitoring these developments and watching these cases like the rest of the country. For quite some time. And again if you are just joining us -- the Supreme Court has ruled that dome of the defense of marriage act which essentially defined. Marriages being between a man and a woman. Has been ruled unconstitutional. The other major ruling coming down this morning. That those defenders of California's prop eight had no standing in court essentially putting it back to the district court ruling which. -- is allowing same sex marriage and as we heard from lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom on in California he expects same sex marriages to resume. Two later on this month now Rick what -- bring -- back -- -- obviously these kinds of landmark decisions often met with often. Us some serious amount of of blow back. From the losing side. Are we expecting gay marriage to face a almost a row reverse way. -- response. From same sex marriage opponents. I think this is a little bit different I think this is something -- public opinion is so far ahead of the ports that were unlikely to see -- kind of backlash that now for the last four decades. Has surrounded the -- decision where public opinion was far behind would force them eating things. I -- the people of both sides of this issue I don't expect that -- I do expect that was to hear more about. The thirty some odd states that have already outlawed gay marriage and battle will be -- in many of those states. But the heat low hanging fruit is already on the supporters of same sex marriage the states where it's easy. To legalize gay marriage have already done so. So now the battle is going to be a state by state level and it's going to be some states that are going to. Pulled out for a very long time they have -- their constitution public opinion -- where it is nationally. So I think we're gonna see that that. Opponents of these opinions. Opponents of gay marriage couldn't reach a fallback position at -- we're gonna defend the gains made they were able to do. A heck of a lot in a short period of time instituting gay marriage ban is -- -- -- -- that and that's one reason that. Supporters of the gay marriage hoping for great landmark ruling on on the prop eight -- the -- dosage and outlaw gay marriage. That would with what else -- would legalize essentially gay marriage across the country. That's not happening today we'll have to wait for a different make -- the -- to get it like that the battle now will be in the trenches in individuals they. And what we're looking at right now the plaintiffs in a prop eight case now making their way to the podium which we will. To listen to as they are getting to speak and just a couple of moments. The Rick want to ask you very quickly I might cut you off just as a Gator it takes -- -- -- obviously refused to defend the law in court any indication. But the president stands may have influenced the tone of those opinions. I think it it -- in one sense that he was leading the charge on public opinion through this and he changed the national debate about a year ago he was rather late to the party. In some ways but if you look at the -- the leading the parade of politicians that have followed this week he did have a major impact in changing the way that we discuss gay rights in particular. Really -- gay marriage plaintiffs' legal team. And found board members of the American foundation -- rights. Speaking first -- David Boies. Let's not -- -- in court where David Boyce place. Speaking that's a great day for America. Ten years ago. Today. United States Supreme Court. In Lawrence against Texas and -- the first important step. Guaranteeing that all Americans. Regardless of sexual orientation we were equal citizens under the law. Today up United States Supreme Court. In two. Important decisions. Brings us. That much closer. To true equality. In the decision. Striking as unconstitutional. The so called Obama our defense of marriage case. United States Supreme Court held that there was no purpose. For depriving. Gay and lesbian couples the right to marry the person -- -- There was no legitimate justification. For that. As Justice Scalia noted. That holding that principle. Guarantee. The right of every individual in every state. And marriage equality. In -- California case. The Supreme Court held that the proponents of proposition eight. Did not have standing. What that means. Is that in that case the Supreme Court could not reach the merits. But everything that the Supreme Court -- in the defense of marriage opinion. Where they did reach the merits. Demonstrates. That when that case finally does come -- United States Supreme Court on the merits. Marriage equality. Will be a law throughout this land. Outplayed us now get to go back the California. And together with every other citizen of California. Marry the person they -- Okay. And the next step. Is to translate. The promise. That was in Lawrence. And it was real form reaffirmed today. In the -- -- case. That every citizen in every state. Has the right to marry the person that they -- The supreme court's decision on standing it is important for another reason. When we started out in this case. We said we are going to prove three things. We're gonna prove that marriage -- a fundamental right. And the other side accepted that. We said second we -- gonna prove. That depriving. Gay and lesbian citizens of the right to marry the person they love him. Seriously harmed them and surged to harm to children they were raising. And even the opponents. Agreed with the act. And third we sad we are going to prove. That allowing. Everyone to marry the person that they -- regardless of sexual orientation. Did not could not harm anyone. And not only. Did the proponents on cross examination. Have to accept that. But today the United States Supreme Court said as much because they sent the proponents have no concrete injury. They cannot point to anything that harms them. These two loving couples and couples like them throughout California. Are now going to be able to -- -- And so this is a it's a wonderful day for outplayed us it's a wonderful day. For our everyone around this country and in California in particular that wants to be able to marry the person they love. But it's a wonderful day for America because we have now -- this country. Another important step towards guaranteeing. The promise that is in our constitution. In our declaration of independence. That all people are -- -- that all people have the inalienable right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is a great -- we thank the supreme are we thank all of you. And perhaps most important. We thank all of the people who devoted so much to this battle over so many decades. People who did it at a time when it was not as easy as it was for adults and myself to going to court. The only thing I regret today. Is that my friend and colleague adults and can be here. He has been a leader in this battle. The last four years he has unfortunately today in another court in another part of the country arguing another case. But his spirit is here and he will be -- me tonight and we will celebrate. Because this is a victory not just for us not just for the -- it's not even just for the people who have worked for this so many decades. But for all Americans. Comment from Chris Bury in cities -- plaintiffs in the case. Today is a great day. For American children and families sandy and I want to say how happy we are not only. To be able to return to California. And finally get married. But to be able to save the children in California no matter where you live no matter who you pick your parents are no matter what family -- and you are equal. You are as good as your friends' parents. And it's your friends we believe from the very beginning that the importance of this case was to send a message to the children of this country. That you are just as good. As everybody else no matter who you love. No matter who your parents. And today we can go back to California and -- our own children all -- of our boys. Your family is just as good as everybody else's family. We love you as much as anybody else's parents love their kids and we're -- -- be equal all now we will be married and we will be equal to every other family in California. Thank you. Also think thank you solid do you think you know our supporters thank you -- aren't -- -- The constitution and and thank you got this day and discard than anything we thank the justices are overturning don't that's so. Awesome all families. -- -- the justices let it out yet but that's happen. It's got nationwide -- -- Fact. That's not that it's about instant access and it's about it's everywhere lately -- -- Take despite -- take all the way and -- equality every line in this entire country thank you all it's been a pleasure and an honor to represent you. Okay. -- live here and jets and the wheels of plaintiffs in the case it's. I don't need these. Our desire to do something. And get involved in this case to be plaintiffs. Was very important us. Perry changed the conversation. It altered the game they created a ground -- of momentum. And passion that brought us here to the Supreme Court today. Today the court said that I am more equal that we are more people. Our love is just like our parents and our grandparents. And that any chosen that we may have in the future will be more secure. I look forward to growing old with the man I love. Our desire to marry has only deepened the last four years as well as our loving commitment to one another. We look forward to using the words married. And husband because those words do matter they are important. I said it in my testimony in court. If they learn important we wouldn't be standing here today it. I'd like to give special thanks to Ted and David. In the entire legal team but -- and David specifically. Because their passion for equality is only trumped by the size of their heart. Elected that -- -- -- for taking this ride with us to judge Griffin for his amazing strategic. Vision. Adam -- made during the entire team at the American foundation for equal rights. And for the support that we have received from countless people that we don't even know. But who will benefit. Just this profoundly from this ruling today thank you very much -- a great day to be an American. I'm not -- reckon that anything after those three great statements for including our amazing lawyer. -- You know today's a great day we. We -- this building -- we always see those words. Equal justice under the law. And today we're closer to that equality we're lucky. And we know that the fight continues across this country we cannot forget our LG BT Brothers and sisters that are in states that still discriminate against them and we will not allow it. We will continue to fight until all of us are equal. In a prop eight did one thing. It really helped us turn anger into action. It led to the foundation. Equals American foundation for equal rights it led to this case into today's victory is well. And we stand on the shoulders of so many people that came before us people that risked their lives to stand up and be who they are. They gave us the legs to stand up on today they Davis the momentum to run -- then their voice to speak loudly and say. Proudly that we are -- We are American. And we will not be treated like second class citizens. So. Although we celebrate to Bangkok. -- we celebrate today we work. To make sure that everyone like Jeff and I Christie -- -- we just want to get married because it's the natural next step in our relationship. We want to join the institution of marriage not to take anything away but to strengthen it. -- -- live up to its ideals. So today's a good day. Today finally get to look. At the -- but I love. And finally say. Would you please bury me. We'll now hear from -- -- -- founder and current president of the Human Rights Campaign Chad. And emotional. Reaction. To the two couples involved in the case. Known as prop eight -- has gone all the way to the Supreme Court the Supreme Court ruling this morning in fact those defenders of prop eight. Did not have standing in the case and therefore. The ruling by the district court. In California it will now -- ruling that will stand there and as we've heard from the lieutenant governor. It is expected that same sex marriages will resume -- the state of California within a month. I want to bring in. ABC's political director -- to talk about this Rick obviously too monumental rulings today for same sex marriage not only for prop eight but also for -- of the defense of marriage act. The Supreme Court ruling in fact. That it is unconstitutional. -- the federal government. Saying that it will no longer deny same sex married couples the benefits that is only -- first couples in states where marriage is legal. But what about the rest of the states. For the rest of the states and most states have actually ban gay marriages because of -- narrow ruling on the prop eight case in California those will stay intact there was a -- among gay rights advocates -- more sweeping rule that would strike down the California law. Also strike down laws in other states -- constitutional amendments and other states that's not happening that we'll have to wait for another day. The battle move to those states will be attempts to repeal to amend constitutions. But it's going to be very difficult state by state. And the statements -- politicians very muted we have house speaker John Boehner who took on the defense of Dilma he -- declined to comment on this at his press conference. And there's a sense right now that that other side they're not going away they're going -- They're gonna continue to fight that battle state by state as it goes let's they right now recognize that this is a big day and maybe they realize that the country. Is moving on and that they -- just isn't the issue that it once was just a few years ago. Well Rick -- what did you if you wouldn't -- elaborate a little bit on that -- Tony Perkins earlier today on ABC news. With the family research council. -- proponent -- an opponent of same sex marriage. And had a relatively as he's pointed out. Muted response to that and it begs the question is -- a matter of would it be changing stance -- in a matter of taking on a new tactic but. I. I think it's maybe both of those things I think also -- you look at the public opinion polls particularly -- among younger voters and you realize that this issue just is not going to be a major issue. In in the eight decades the continent that -- the demographics are clear on this so. It's a sense of retrenching of regrouping going on that side I think Tony Perkins pointed out part of the strategy which is defending the existing bans on gay marriage that are in place in three dozen states that's going to be a big focus. Like unused doing it may be all of us covering these things were used to this kind of -- response that -- an activist Wharton promises. Best ways to overcome -- intent to fight back against that fund raising appeals on the light. And it just doesn't happen today and I'm struck by that that this is just a lot of quiet. On the other side the president has responded to this on his way to Senegal this morning. In support of the supreme court's finding on that but as you pointed out as far as lawmakers go. There has been little response. Those that are have been an opposition here for same sex marriage -- I -- to talk to you. A little bit have we heard everything or rather than any kind of early indications from lawmakers about if these were going to be the decisions. Would there be any kind of congressional legal movement. To. Essentially try to skirt these skirt these ruling -- I'm curious as to what those conversations will be because there are rights and benefits and federal government confers on married couples this is going to have -- -- impact on that on the resources that go to that. There's going to be have to be a change in the kind of forms that are out there now that that the federal government recognizing. I gay marriage won't be enough to just say husband and wife from a man and woman in uniform for married people have to change that the -- the processing to designations. The benefits that accrue to. Members of the military for instance they've been limitations because of don't know which is in place since gay marriage -- keep in my defense of marriage act went into place before gay marriage -- legal anywhere. Who didn't take away anyone's rights and benefits on the front end but over time we have seen states a dozen now that have legalized gay marriage if they apply for benefits. Four through the tax code through. Visitation rights through. Health care through the VA what have you they've been denied that if they were a same sex couple that has to stop them. And it's gonna take a long time to implement and by the federal government is a is a vast bureaucracy. That is gonna have to work its way through this I'd imagine -- will be congressional hearings on on coming at this from both sides they're gonna focus intensely on what kind of resources the government needs but this is the final word is that the Supreme Court. Tossing out a law that has been on the books for fifteen years and there's gonna have to be an effort in congress to cope with that reality. Rick -- want to talk a little bit about Justice Kennedy because he wrote the opinion for the -- -- case. In that majority five to four and it really obviously that Donald was unconstitutional. The language in this case with sweeping it's been characterized as being a very broad. In language and in -- at the same time Justice Kennedy was of the opinion in the prop eight case that in fact. There was jurisdiction for the court to make a ruling on that ultimately. That did not happen the court determine -- fact that those defendants prop -- had no standing record for -- For a legal process. But an interest seen a message and both of those cases coming from the same justice. That's right. And a swing justice that's what's important about -- that we know this court and ask for strong conservatives for solid liberals and Justice Kennedy always the question mark on -- hot button issues. Clearly though from reading what Kennedy wrote in both opinions he was ready go further he wanted to say that the constitution. Guards against attempts to infringe on the rights of citizens to marry each other even if that means they are gay couples that he wanted to -- -- -- stated that California's ban was illegal it was unconstitutional and that other states we're in a similar situation he wanted to go a lot further. But I think this is very much in keeping with the way to John Roberts has led this court he's seen this claw that back and try to find in cobble together a majority it would take. We don't have to deal with that the issue. John Roberts was very interesting during the oral arguments on this he. He made the point that it it -- the political process was coping with gay marriage that politicians seem to be falling over themselves to endorse one side of this case particularly on -- and a little bit on prop eight. And so he wanted something a little bit now -- he wanted something that -- we don't have to deal with this today let's watch the political process work itself out at sea house states. Deal with this let's allow the federalism. That the constitution is designed around to decide state by state let the citizens through their legislative process through the referendum process decide whether they want gay marriage in that state. Let it play out at the state and local level and that's what's gonna happen now it is going to be -- work but I clearly. Justice Kennedy felt otherwise and that that several of the liberal justices agreed that that -- should be the should be decided on much broader -- that would establish that the constitution. Would guarantee the right for gay couples to get married. Rick stay with us but I do -- -- -- California -- ABC's -- Avaya is in San Francisco city -- to say I know the announcement came down. Just a short time ago and we were watching the video and -- the eruption and clearly a huge show of support there. Huge show of support here down good morning to you. Gay marriage movement in San Francisco. The celebration still goes on these speakers behind me are the leaders of that fight who have been fighting in California for years now since 2004 when then governor. -- -- Anticipated marriages 4000 people remember those seats people lined up outside of the City Hall flocking to San Francisco to get married when they -- -- illegal. And that's what prompted this fight over proposition eight -- today these people here. In this rotunda where the -- Yeah. Arms up in the air to celebrate this victory so what comes next. Marriages of same sex marriages here in California we have heard from city officials that those marriages could begin. As soon as mid solely on July we already know that a number of volunteers 64 I believe -- the number of volunteers have stepped forward to become deputized. CB in officiating over those marriages. Literally we will see a race to the -- -- -- California now that proposition eight has been. Invalidated in the more immediate future tonight a gigantic party in San Francisco's historically gay Castro neighborhood we've heard that they are bringing in music we have heard. It's three. San Francisco's gay pride weekend -- Largest pride celebrations around the country Dan you can bet that it's -- be a really big party for a few days to come here in San Francisco. Certainly a great -- -- celebration going on and prepared to -- there to say I would ask you look at that I spoke lieutenant governor Gavin -- about this. That the fact the matter is is that when this case -- Supreme Court essentially. The governor the lieutenant governor were not actually defending proposition eight -- that seem to be so much to the -- for. The way in which the Supreme Court had made the ruling to the lieutenant governor. Offer some insights -- -- of the power of the voice of the people of California based on that. You know I think that's the interpretation here that times have shifted so. -- -- same sex marriages. Happen I -- really the consensus here around California especially in this building right now is that the tide of public opinion. Has shifted and not really helped them in their fight it helped me don't mock. Help with -- eight I just heard it took -- to you know your skis you like gathered her one of the speakers on this DNC. We have -- its efforts to many years under that stigma of this ruling in another one said. This fight is about more than a week. Our lives and really when you look out at this crowd -- GC UC couples who have been together. -- With -- each other here. And this is a very emotional. Across the country in a building that many people have never been -- this is something. Pregnant and that's -- they're celebrating today. And -- an insanity this City Hall is open up early this morning obviously in anticipation of that kind of crowd filling up this morning. To recognize the you know. Yeah I think this is -- government building -- the county board of supervisors -- right up there this is of a working government office in the doors open. 6:30 this morning and I'll tell you we've been here since 4 in the morning California time. People have been lying about sites again -- Okay. -- -- they're even more on the other side. This is decision that people have been heating or for a really long time basically since 2001 when they started those very. Okay. News 2000. Mary then those people. Are directly affected by the don't not ruling as well they will now be able to receive almost federal benefits. That have only had apparently been -- for. Here is from. That he would not be able to receive a green card if you look right -- military benefits to spouses so. -- Crowd gathered here today down. Kansas that is before when -- you -- one ask you this is to come on a personal note there of the people that you've spoken with -- on the floor of City Hall. Have you heard of any marriage proposals have you heard of any plans based on these two major announcements because as -- pointed out there is now going to be certainly. A rush to the altar. OK. News. -- -- So what could save -- There are reading in this city are expecting big business or to board as a result of this ruling -- Floral shop owners invitation -- things like that -- -- it really will be a priest to the -- it it's just a matter of time allowed people to digest this very complicated decision. And then move forward after Saturday night -- mentioned that there are a number of volunteers have been deputized to start those marriages. We know on the calendar they probably won't begin until middle to late July but Dan you can bet when they do you're gonna see a lot of people lined up to get married here. A lot of lives changing and a lot of big smiles and California ABC's today in Vegas and San Francisco -- thank you so much for that. I want to bring back. Our political director Rick Klein and -- guy understanding and we've been talking about the fact of the response. -- for -- for same sex marriage been relatively quiet. Tony Perkins -- the family research council they're making some. Rather muted comments but there is someone Michelle Bachmann making a response to both of these rulings from the Supreme Court. That's right in she's citing in the hand of god in this -- saying -- the Supreme Court cannot do God's will when it comes to this but she is literally the first lawmaker. That -- seen respond to this in anger or outrage or disbelief over it a we've seen some others some not conservative pastor coalitions The Heritage Foundation. Among them they are beginning to weigh in but again I still struck by the fact that there isn't more so far on that side he even mind at that house Republicans in particular put themselves out there on this they spent more than two million dollars. In taxpayer funds to defend -- hiring outside counsel because the Obama White House refused to do so. They say they were standing on principle -- also. On the on the policy grounds that they felt like -- -- remains good policy. -- got a little light on the case now that happens the court strike this down I think they're gonna be regrouping hasn't mentioned earlier house speaker John Boehner was asked about this. Moments ago the capital declined to comment that will be response there will be backlash don't get me wrong about that but this is clearly a -- -- the other side is relishing with with a relative degree of silence from the folks who have fought for a long time to define marriage strictly is between a man and a woman. Rick you know Washington the better than anyone and oftentimes you know there can be a disconnect between the realities of Washington DC and the rest of the country and often times as we've been seen. The progression of public opinion and attitude toward same sex marriage. Has turned in its favor -- primarily along younger generations. Has the opposition for same sex marriage. In DC among lawmakers has -- -- along party lines has event generational divides. It's a little -- -- those things but it is primarily party lines but look at the broader point is that the country has flip flopped. And there's nothing that that drives politicians -- do the same -- that feeling among their constituents and you have for so many of these lawmakers. That they talk to their sons and their daughters and people that is friends -- -- and cousins and people that they're exposed to -- like that it just. Broadened the horizons I thought the -- the statements particularly. That we've seen by Republican politicians Republican senators who have not changed their minds on this issue are very striking Rob Portman the senator from Ohio talked about his own son. Who came out as gay and he -- someone as a leader in the party and he decides that he is now personally for gay marriage so we're seeing it shift. And I think there's a sense of inevitability around public opinion on this if not on policy on this as long as this is decided state by state. There will be states that for the foreseeable future will ban same sex marriage. But as time goes by as more voters both Democrats Republicans independents gay lesbian straight. Hispanic out black we've seen across generations now younger voters in particular driving -- change but also older voters. The country's moving on this and I think politicians are following rather than leading. And if you are just joining us to make decisions -- from the Supreme Court today concerning same sex marriage the first. Regarding -- of the defense of marriage act the Supreme Court ruling in fact that goma is unconstitutional. Therefore granting the same legal rights for same sex couples as opposite sex couples. In the twelve states along with the District of Columbia those areas where same sex marriage is legal the second major ruling coming down. In regard to proposition -- that was the California ban on same sex marriage. The Supreme Court saying that the defenders of -- they had no standing in court essentially what that means is that the district court ruling in California. Will stand which is allowing same sex marriage and as we've been hearing from officials in California they expect same sex marriage. Will continue and be resume rather within the rest of the month for couples -- in California. But Rick. Is far as we've been trying to read the tea leaves for how these rulings would be coming down. Did we get any kind of indication -- -- house or the senate for any lawmaker wanting to bring up any new legislation. If the rulings came down in these ways. I think it's hard to imagine what they would do next because this is the be the biggest involvement the federal government has. On same sex marriage is deciding on what you do about benefits and that's what the defense of marriage act got -- it said the federal government would not recognize unions between men and women. And you saw the Obama White House the administration trying to a road that trying to find ways to provide partnerships but they came up against. This law that ultimately they decided it would -- -- -- -- constitute unconstitutional. So the short of a constitutional amendment. There's very little that that the house of the senate can do around gay marriage there was talk about a -- America amendment as recently as the Bush Administration. But I don't sense the political world to go back there. And you know that it's not going to be there in the in the senate which is controlled by Democrats -- an outright majority of senators supports gay marriage so I don't think that there is a peak area for them to try to scale back this ruling I think. That the front that's that the new fronts in this battle has to be the states because that's where gay marriage will continue to be outlawed in three dozen such instances. So that's where I think the action is going to be and I think. Most of the action at the federal level now is gonna have to be on implementing the Supreme Court opinion. Ricky with Keller to talk a little bit about the fact that there is -- -- in there it in both of these opinions. There is that back and forth battle between federal rights and federal registration and state by state legislation. And from both of these rulings regarding dome and propping it appears as it is going to be an and an individual state by state basis. What's interesting is that when Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion that he specifically. Spelled out the fact that if New York is going to recognize a marriage. That the federal government will not deny the recognition of that and at the same time there is always that back and forth between the power balance. That's right and I think what's important here is that the federal government traditionally gives deference the states that's the way. Our system is -- -- and because of that because of the federalism. That day that prevails when you have states actively affirming gay marriage yet didn't the federal government would say we don't care what you did New York we don't care. That that the voters of Massachusetts of the voters of new Yorker Vermont -- Iowa. Thinks that gay marriage is a good idea we have the federal government aren't going to agree with that it's a classic. A Federalist argument to say okay we're gonna let the states dictate this in the federal government is gonna kind of trail along. In their weights in their -- so there is a push poll and the federal government has a big responsibility in respecting marriage but not a defining marriage -- the defense of marriage act. Is been tossed out. I ended just to put sort of the that the face to one of the cases don't of the defense of marriage act. Brought about by Edie -- and 83 year old woman from New York she married her longtime partner Thea Speyer back in 2007. Speier had died in in 2009. And it was. The estate tax that. 363000. Dollars that otherwise she would not be forced to pay. Under an opposite sex marriage. And because of the fact that her marriage was not recognized by the IRS. That case made its way all the way to the Supreme Court. And as we heard from her role in this morning the Supreme Court saying. -- fact is unconstitutional. And certainly. An impact in a ruling that will have resounding effects not only -- the twelve states and the District of Columbia where same sex marriage is legal but clearly. An impact on other states and -- I want to get your thoughts on that will this dome a ruling. Have an effect on those 36 other states that have bans on -- game there in same sex marriage. That is certainly the hope of the proponents of of same sex marriage that -- meeting -- there was an important person as -- as -- as a kind of flag bearer for this because she had a compelling personal story of personal history you also need actual harm this report doesn't decide these things in the abstract they needed someone who was impacted by that they found that -- Edie Windsor and the remarkable story of her journey through this. And her victory at the court it's a huge day for her clearly but there is -- hope that the the combination of things of public opinion. Changing on this politicians. Moving on this and now the court coming down with that sweeping language from Justice Kennedy about the rights of of Americans who were gay and -- to marry. All of that will will help drive public opinion and begin to help eroding the remaining opposition -- there are those three dozen states it's very hard there's no question about -- I've talked to several folks. Involved in that effort and they realize that. It's not so easy just to get something back on the ballot. To try to to amend the constitution particularly not in more socially conservative states there are some states that are still a ways away from moving back. On those issues but the California and that's one reason the California is important today I know that the backers of a same sex marriage believe very strongly that if that was brought up prop -- -- up for a vote again tomorrow it would even be close it would easily be defeated in a gay marriage would continue to be legal. In California they got the courts intervene in that case -- will we could see. More court challenges at the state level and -- -- bubbling up to the federal level you find a way to have standing and have the case in -- on on its merits. But I I think this is going to be -- battle. And -- complicated battle because you're gonna have various legal and then and in very legislative efforts to try to undo what's what's now in place. Bye -- folks who have been trying to ban gay marriage for about ten years. What Erica what -- watching -- very briefly about that is that the fact the matter is is that the governor lieutenant governor in the state of California didn't want to back proposition eight. And in fact took a private group to actually bring the case to the Supreme Court ultimately the Supreme Court deciding -- fact of that group didn't have standing. -- and two to bring to the court. -- -- change the dynamics for any kind of ambition for any -- -- even going outside of same sex marriage for any other issues going forward. -- of if you don't have the state itself defending its own law. What will be the ambition what will be the driving -- -- be the hope of any kind of private groups be able to have any kind of victory or success for the Supreme Court. Important in that ruling on on prop eight was Justice Roberts saying that the court has never before. I've granted the standing of someone acting on behalf of the state -- the state wouldn't come in -- they weren't about to start to do that now so I think a signal. From Justice Roberts who is throughout his career and his time as Chief Justice. Try to find ways for the court to be is he would put it more humble. In its conduct and finding ways to not rule on the the big issues unless they're absolutely forced to do so -- in this case. They find a bit of an easier out rather than having to weigh in on an issue that. May reach them another a couple of terms it may take ten years or more -- to get there but you can easily see. A a same sex marriage state level case reaching its way to the Supreme Court and his report essentially being forced to deal with that but that the clear signal from Justice Roberts is that he wants the democratic process in the states to work itself out. He wants people to make these decisions at the ballot box through their elected officials he does not want the court to be redefining. What marriage has meant for most of American history. On behalf of the American people unless he's actually forced to do it. Just minutes ago Terry Moran was on the steps of the Supreme Court there -- one of the couple's one of the plaintiff couples in the proposition eight case. -- -- to take a listen now at when they had to say in reaction to the Supreme Court ruling. Justice Kennedy's words were so eloquent and so spot on about how important this is and how we feel every day when we suffer those -- So now there's so many people around the country that will benefit from that ruling that you could really tell him about it. Quarterly through the -- and where was head. This is always been about equality for -- Jeff and I have been together for over a dozen years we know we want to get married to natural next step for us. You know encouraged -- the structure of this is all about. Dignity about equality about. Freedom and liberty and and those are the values that we live by this -- -- hearing those words -- Makes you feel like you're finally being treated like a full service. And ma has the chorus wells -- -- really good job. -- So you just got engaged over here. Philadelphia but that was our that was the most public proposal on a -- -- never said yes on the microphone yeah yeah yeah I think you're on the record records and Africa. Together in -- we are we are we're more in love today -- we learned that honeymoon phase and we first met. In this case is brought us closer together and actually really define what marriage means to us it's given us a deeper and deeper understanding and respect for -- -- Well you know. We -- we're going through this together so it's not like one. One member of the relationship is going through in your not so -- advertising -- each other as opposed to sympathize because -- so what he feels I feel what I feel he feels. Throughout this entire process and it's been a four year journey. Some a lot of ups and some downs but it you know we are still going on with our regular lives while this whole process goes on we have jobs we have bills. But it's been a fantastic process and our love and commitment to women -- has just absolutely deepened throughout the process. Think back to the day you -- when he started. Falling in love. Here you are and pioneers who in the vanguard of this national social movement. For punishment fits very generous yeah what would those guys at seven. What you -- -- that we are like so many other couples in this country we're no different we're not. Stood up for how we felt and what we felt was love and we felt his a natural love that brought us together. You get prohibited from that -- your denied the right. Damage from that swells up. At least two. Doubting yourself and you -- so does my country or my -- really want to sanction discrimination against it just because of the person that I love. We're like everybody else we hope that everyone finds the person that they want to marry and has the right to do that because that's what our country's about. Harvey -- said hoped would never be silent and you can tell by the chorus by the cheers -- -- never -- -- -- silent in this country. When he gonna get merit a thought that's a really good as -- attorney general says we can. Thank you very much personally -- you for having -- -- an estimated. A proposal on the steps of the Supreme Court today after the Supreme Court ruled in fact that proposition eight. Those defending proposition eight had no standing in court and therefore. Same sex marriages are expected to resume in his state of California and that couple were at their pocket Tommy and Jeffries of as the real one of the couple one of the plaintiff couples on that had brought that case although it is Supreme Court there. Obviously showing a very emotional. Very supportive almost overwhelming reaction. To this morning's ruling. Rick I want to ask you about that particular component of both of these cases both for -- -- Edie Windsor. The 83 year old woman that face. Of that case and those two those same sex couples. That where the case of prop eight the personal stories often times get lost when we're talking about Supreme Court cases. But for those narratives that seem to really play not only with the justices but also certainly with the public. A 100% and when people are bringing these cases they're thinking about that they want to know that this -- compelling personal narrative a story behind it and there are so many stories like this and you know I I was at the Boston Globe covering Massachusetts win. Gay marriage became legal in that state and in the original case and that the way that they -- kind of -- that a central casting the people the represent them in the faces. That you saw who were on the steps of city halls across the state of Massachusetts when gay marriage first part started being defined. I think that's a has a big role in defining what gay marriages for people who weren't familiar with the concept the reason that is gone mainstream the reason it. Public opinion has -- so much of the last decade on this issue I think it has a lot to do with those faces knowing your friends in your neighbors in and seeing what's out there. An entity that doesn't fit stereotypes necessarily what you expect to see I think that is helped and a lot of this has to do with just the fact that gay marriage. Has been happening I don't think you could see rulings like today. Without that fact I don't think you could have brought cases like this in the abstract that's why you that's of the defense of marriage act. -- signed a democratic president in 1986. Now overturned by a Supreme Court that has the majority of justices that redeemed by Republicans. What's also manages to and you pointed great it -- a fact that -- that I think cannot be emphasized enough from 96 until now the evolution of so many political leaders has really played out for the public guy. Not only for congress but also for presidents. And President Obama being one of the most vocal in the way in which he has evolved on his stance of same sex marriage and the stance. From the federal government any opinion of not enforcing the don't month. It's interesting to see that when you look at sort of the that the -- Newt dated -- workings of congress. Then at the end of the day there is still a person that is signed legislation or creating legislation and oftentimes they are influence are -- By those personal interactions that they had. Keep in mind that it it every presidential candidate in in history to have -- an -- any kind of position on gay marriage. Until the 2012 election opposed -- -- -- both parties Democrats and Republicans they were on record major party nominees opposed gay marriage in 2008. When President Obama sought the democratic nomination. All of the folks he was up against Hillary Clinton John Edwards Joseph Biden they were all against gay marriage the way this is changed though it is impossible. -- C a democratic candidate for president in 20162020. Or really anywhere in the foreseeable future. Not being for gay marriage and in fact it's increasingly likely that we'll have Republican candidates -- for gay marriage -- a big issue and to see an entire political class literally flip flop in front of our eyes is remarkable I can't think of anything. That is that remotely comparable to see everyone move in the whole country move an entire party move in another party begins to move. All within the space of a couple of years all in inside of -- Obama's time in office until fourteen months ago. He was officially against gay marriage he was clearly a -- without opposition over time that's how he stood for for election. In in Illinois to the senate that's how we stood for election. For the presidency the first time around and it wasn't till about a year ago that he that he finally changed his mind on the issue. And we -- just seen politicians flocking in that same direction and only in that direction realistically. So for those opponents of same sex -- is -- now a matter of embracing these rulings is that now a matter of embracing public opinion or is a matter of ignoring it moving to another issue moving to another area that that that might be just as strong for them sentiment lies. I think the Villa a push and some conservative circles the -- and -- we lost this this one. It's happening and let's move on I do think it will be very big battles at the state at the state level and in there maybe some. Some areas and some particular states where they can actually go in the other direction -- because. The fact is that this nation is very much divided -- that you know 5860%. Of people who support gay marriage they don't live equally across the fifty United States -- We can easily see battles where Democrats and -- and proponents of gay marriage to suffer setbacks. In the next couple of years but -- I don't think they're in a situation where they can really look to expand on the number of states with outright bans on gay marriage the best they can do is play -- defense. And I do think ultimately industry be driven by -- younger generation of conservatives this -- listen. There are other issues that are more favorable terrain for -- clearly we're not happy with where the country is gone but at some point you have to realize that you cut your losses. I want us a Tuesday interview that -- Terry Moran have with David Boies one of the co counsel -- -- the co counsel for the proposition -- case his reaction. To the supreme court's decision this morning. Brought together they establish that there is no basis for state discrimination. Against gay and lesbian couples. Together what they saying is that gay and lesbian couples like every loving parent you know anywhere in the country. Have a right to marry -- We started out. In this case to. Marriage is a fundamental right. Allowing. Gay and lesbian citizens to -- doesn't hurt anybody and depriving gay and lesbian. The right to marry seriously -- -- The Supreme Court. Held that we were right on each one of those field. We still live in the country that where there -- 37 states. Which do not acknowledge. Marriage rights for gay couple. So what does this mean for them what it means for them it's it's a matter of time. Got to bring a case. Man it's got to get to the Supreme Court or it's gotta be decided. Lower courts. Either way we can bring marriage equality. For the entire country. But what the court did today and whether it's sad because. The proponents of proposition me. Weren't harmed at all primary. They didn't have any -- And because they didn't have any standing they could not reach the merits. Again the proposition -- from -- But they could reach the merits and John McCain and in the -- -- case they make absolutely clear in bringing down. That this kind of discrimination and how to. It's staggering -- -- long and in the country it is it is a great change that and this happens on the tenth anniversary. Com Lawrence against Texas which was the first major. Civil rights case. Decided by the Supreme Court. That broad and America. Into the twentieth century. The game. Warrants against taxes. The first major civil rights decision in favor. Bringing all citizens. Who lives. Life liberty and should happen similar supposedly guaranteed in the. And on the tenth anniversary. Of the United States Supreme Court -- -- fulfills the promise. What's his journey been like for you. It's been exciting. It's been tough sometimes. -- sometimes we'll. I've waited for the one -- the most rewarding things. Lie on my colleague Reynolds and government involvement. Because it has effected. People's lives. God is fundamental way yeah and because. It has brought this -- -- Closer to the ideals. Of equality. We all its -- -- he believes America we believe it's -- -- -- But we've had a terrible history which. We discriminating against people -- not. Recognizing. -- -- somehow to. And what we've now done we've eliminated in the process of eliminating we still have a history. We're in the process of eliminating the -- and official after. People who are just like you and me except for their sexual. And for people who suffer terrible discrimination. And the Supreme Court. Says today. That discrimination -- -- -- it doesn't have any basis. No legitimate justification. Came over. Thank you thank you just a matter of time. And I want to bring in ABC's Terry Moran have -- just wrapped up that interview with David Boies and Terry he says game over clearly a victory. For those gentlemen today and for those two couples and for the state of California. Absolutely game not quite over about basically he says that his side to side that advocates for equal Merrell writes is ahead about a hundred to nothing. And that is because today. In the opinion on the defense of marriage -- striking down that -- Justice Kennedy includes. The basic concept that gay couples deserve the equal protection of the laws. And that is just to have to step away from saying. They deserve -- equal protection of all the laws of every state all the marital laws and there is no justification. To treat them differently under the marriage laws of all the things they didn't say that today but -- that have to step away it is it is and -- -- -- no question about Terry let me ask you -- and practical terms regarding the dome a ruling for same sex married couples in states like New York. Maryland Minnesota. To name a few. How does that change for those couples line. It's it's a huge change first as as Justice Kennedy says in -- sweeping and ringing tones -- it is. It is a change in their status the federal government is recognizing them as the equal of any other married couple -- Dignity under federal law has risen been enhanced and that's an important thing that's not nothing. But as a practical matter all federal benefits -- Social Security benefits -- veterans benefits. The tax benefits all of the things that the federal government does to support married couples. Will now be done for legally married gay couples and those states which recognize that so it's a big big change both. In their status. And in their practical everyday lives. Do we know where at this point in those twelve states along with the District of Columbia those same sex married couples if they moved to a state. We're same sex marriage has been -- of the 37 states. Will the federal government still recognize their marriage. Well that is a very interesting question and and the answer is a little complicated. When you move as a married couple from one state to another state. The federal government looks that you. Depending on what they're doing couple of different ways some federal benefits. Are based on the state where you were married. And some federal benefits are based on the states where you live is a married couple. So for example Social Security. -- here legally married in New York you'll get your Social Security no matter where you moved. But there are other federal benefits that that say are you legally married in the state where you resign. And if the state doesn't recognize -- there will be some federal benefits you don't have access to my -- is congress is gonna try and change that. My hunch is also is congress is not gonna get the job done. Let me ask this before we let you go -- -- prop eight decision being celebrated obviously by same sex marriage supporters not only California but across the country. Certainly a groundswell of national support for a lot of same sex couples. It wasn't a total victory though a lot of people caught clarifying this as a punt by the Supreme Court what did they not get from today's -- Well they didn't -- decision on them. Big question of the merits. Does the constitution's. Guarantee of -- equal protection of the laws apply right across the country and mean that every single state must. Recognize. The equal status of gay couples to marry couples must allow gay marriage they didn't do that they didn't get to that they stopped short. Because they said that there was a problem in this prop eight case. Governor Schwarzenegger wouldn't defended in court Governor Brown wouldn't defended in court -- the state wasn't even defending the law. There -- some private citizens that came forward who had supported prop eight wanted to ban gay marriage in California -- it will defend the law. And the court today said we have never done that before. You aren't accountable to the taxpayers of California you are accountable to the voters of California we're not gonna start now so. What they did is say we don't want it get to the real issues because you don't even belong here. Because of our principles and the practical effect of that is gay marriage. Within a short period of time will be legal in the state of California. Because the trial court struck down prop eight and that's the decision that now stamps. And from that huge victory cheer from San Francisco and City -- there ABC's Terry Moran. On the steps of the Supreme Court breaking down these rulings in such a way that makes it very easy to understand and certainly. A lot of folks very happy with the decisions today. Terry thank you for your time for your insight and Terry spoke wind. The other couple the other plaintiff -- and the proposition eight -- case getting their response the Supreme Court ruling let's listen of that. At first opinion on the case site because it's so so thrilled and delighted to hear the ruling and to hear. The important statements made by or -- -- -- about equal protection and how important a -- equal protection. And we're thrilled so aside eating one to could be in the courtroom today to hear what says that she is a hero in America today. -- what you would what you think it would -- about the law about our country at about each other. Well there -- a moment. Both during the -- ruling and in the ruling on our case where I felt that the world opened up and freedom. -- -- And this idea and -- -- I could live a life equal to our friends lives in her parents' lives it was suddenly possible. Because I'll tell you for the last thirty years it has felt as if this they would never content. And -- the Indian I would never have a wedding and get to say I do with the force that you must say I do win. That we are equal that we do count and that our family and our children should have what every other family house. I'm ready well I I think to taste no remarkable thing especially for arsenal Californians because not only larceny recognizes -- -- Our federal government is -- I -- us is equal to. And it's just it's a double win for us it's it's an amazing today but again we needed for the entire country want equality for our entire country. What's this journey been like for you as a couple. It's been an amazing journey for us -- -- a long journey to -- -- -- for many years -- -- -- can't we started asking our youngest cancer or not even high school yet now I'm going off to college. That's how long it's -- and how much change of experience in our lives. Insensitive particularly poignant I think for us that now that we're about to become empty Napster's we can finally get married -- couldn't get an. -- irony is that right. -- that they. Ability to get married. We want to be the first people in line in California wind may allow couples like sandy Unita get married again this has been an important and exhausting journey and we want to finish it on the highest note possible which is. Getting married and spending the rest of her -- together as a married couple. Because you have pictures of each other we love each other for a very odd time and we're gonna Lovie Smith certainly a lot -- eyes yeah rival Wyeth Mecca. Make good decisions. Now. Last question and still auto parts of the country. Where this is not accepted that where you -- seen as different and treated as different under the law. What we'll change. Well we hope that this important reeling certainly sets the stage for other for other states and our country I think the government really really does. Two very aggressively pursued equality because. Discrimination -- -- OK if it's not good for anybody get hurt everybody in it's your duty as citizens to fight for fairness for our fellow citizens I hope that. People throughout the country take up despite -- found an application for their their fellow man it's it's an important thing to do and in a hard job. -- there's just a matter of time. I think. That in the last four years we've seen a remarkable shift in public opinion from me -- less than half the people to almost two thirds of people understanding that marriage equality is actually good for the country it's good for families -- for neighborhood is different ends. And sandy and I really fortunate Matalin and a state where this will become law. But there -- 37 other states -- alive and we feel it's important for those kids growing -- in those states that those parents to note that the eight count to. So will hope that our -- precedent California helps them that we personally will help them as well. Good luck to you thank you congratulations on your impending nuptials -- -- 80. Lot of proposals and a lot of love and a lot of marriage. Being discussed on the steps of the Supreme Court today for those two major rulings regarding same sex marriage. And as we heard from ABC's Terry Moran there that was one couple. Of the -- -- couple -- against proposition eight in that case and once that ruling was decided the president who is traveling overseas to Senegal Africa. Had called up that couple to offer his thoughts in his words as he's been closely watching the Supreme Court case. Here's what they said from that phone call. Talking the president of the United States. What what an incredible turn. You know and asked and usually -- said that this case is about Bob. Huntley has mentioned about love and the most important decision -- -- international -- -- you choose your life wouldn't. And only come out we cannot imagine that we wouldn't -- -- -- on this journey to get married and -- and we aren't an idea I'm proud to be here and I. Isn't all that I actually get rid of -- -- that I. So wonderful. Two major announcements there actually able to marry the woman she loves. And a phone call from the president to major announcements historic rulings today from the supreme court's those proponents of proposition eight in California. Being told they don't have standing in the case by the Supreme Court therefore the ruling going back to the district court level and same sex marriages are expected to resume in the state of California and the other major ruling. Regarding -- -- the defense of marriage act the Supreme Court ruling that unconstitutional. That those same sex couples married -- those twelve states in the District of Columbia where same sex marriage is legal. Will be recognized by the federal governments and therefore receive the benefits. Of marriage of course we have a complete recap on As the developments we'll continue throughout the day. On these two landmark cases. Regarding same sex marriage for now I'm Dan -- New York with this ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from ABC news.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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