Proposition 8 took another step towards the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) today as it reaches the US Circuit Court of Appeals; court number 9 to be exact. Earlier this month US District Judge Vaughn Walker of a lower court overturned the same-sex marriage ban and the next bout of this contest will be on December 6th.
I believe it inevitable that Proposition 8 will reach SCOTUS, and it will be a hugely polarizing affair both on the bench and in Washington DC. For the politicians, it will be a clear-cut decision on whether they see gay people as human equals or degenerates. The Democrat position will be against the ban but it will be interesting to see how their big players - Pelosi, Reid and Obama - deal with dissent in the ranks.
For the Republicans, it will be a line in the sand moment where the party takes an identity on their approach to gays and lesbians. All the Congressman and some Senators will have an eye on their re-election campaign in 2012, and an issue like this can make or break the bid on its own because it polarizes so many people.
In Red States particularly, this will be of huge significance as the electorate is more socially conservative and more likely to look favorably upon politicians supporting the ban. This presents an opportunity for the co-opted and increasingly influential tea-party backed candidates to beat incumbents in Republican seats in 2012.
The SCOTUS bench is considered a conservative one with Chief Justice John Roberts a GW Bush/Cheney appointee, as well as Justice Samuel Alito. The two other prominent conservative Justices are Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, whilst the liberals are Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and the newly appointed Elena Kagan. It then seems to rest with swing justice Anthony Kennedy.
I predict that, should we reach this point, Kennedy will side with the liberals of the court because his track record on homosexuality has been to protect their rights as seen in Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas. He in fact authored both the Court's opinions in these cases.
For me this is the next ticking time-bomb in American politics that will help shape Congressional, Senate and the Presidential election in 2012. The political sharpness of the debate will largely depend on the Republican stance in DC; if indeed they publicly take one.