Gay rights advocates celebrated Friday following the Supreme Court's announcement that it will take up same-sex marriage cases next year.
"It really is an incredible day today," Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said on Hardball Friday night. "When [Prop 8] was filed almost four years ago, we made the case in court that in this country, we don't deny our citizens a fundamental right, and the Supreme Court has called marriage a fundamental right no less than 14 times in the history of this country."
He added, "I'm optimistic that once the Court does hear this case, they're going to come down on the side of freedom, liberty, and equality just like they have so many times in our nation's past."
Gay rights advocate Elizabeth Birch echoed Griffin's optimism and said the 21st century has signaled a "policy and civil rights renaissance" for the LGBT community, and cited both the historic ballot initiatives passed in four states in November and President Obama's support for marriage equality as a sign that this country is ready to open the doors its closed in the past.
"We've seen President Obama step up to this issue...and our military has stepped up. Will the Supreme Court also keep pace in our time with the other major institutions?" Birch asked.
In a statement issued after the Supreme Court's announcement, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said the decision to take on Prop 8 "takes our nation one step closer to realizing the American ideal of equal protection under the law for all people."
Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also celebrated the Supreme Court's announcement:
By taking up the Prop 8 case, the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to make a strong statement that laws, in California and nationwide, must not target the LGBT community unfairly and that families across our state and our country deserve fair and equal treatment under the law.We have now reached a landmark moment in the history of civil rights in our nation. Let's end discrimination and ensure equality for all of America's families. Let's get this over with and on to the future!
The Supreme Court will hear the two cases—one on the Defense of Marriage Act and one on California's Prop 8—in March, with a decision likely to come in June. If the Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act, Griffin says same-sex marriages would have to be legally recognized by the federal government, though individual states would still need to move forward with granting couples the right to marry.