A U.S. District Court in San Francisco has begun hearing a high-profile case in which two gay couples are arguing that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8, is unconstitutional in that it denies them equal protection under the law.
According to legal analysts, Perry v. Schwarzenegger is likely to be fought all the way to the Supreme Court, and its outcome will define the issue of homosexual marriage for years to come, much like Roe vs. Wade settled abortion rights and Brown vs. Board of Education desegregated the nation’s schools.
The suit is supported by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, whose president Chad Griffin said that, contrary to the claims put forward by detractors of same-sex marriage, granting such basic rights would strengthen the fabric of society and affirm the institution of marriage, according to CNN.
"This is one of the threshold civil rights issues of our generation," Griffin said, quoted by the news provider. "Justice is on our side and we’re about to reclaim it."
However, opponents, such as Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, have been quick to point out that efforts to legalize gay marriage have been repeatedly thwarted at the ballot box, most recently when Proposition 8 was upheld by California residents during the 2008 general election.
"The marriage laws of all 50 states would be endangered should this lawsuit succeed," Perkins warned yesterday.
He added, "The plaintiffs are really asking for a wholesale recasting and redefinition of this vital human institution that has been the foundation of civilization’s progress for millennia."