(CBS NEWS) -- The fight to recognize same-sex marriage in the Unites States isn't
over yet, activists on both sides of the issue sounded off over the
weekend, pointing largely to a tactful omission in two landmark rulings
at the Supreme Court that scored seeming victory for the gay-rights
A 5-4 decision from
the justices struck down a provision of the 17-year-old Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA) that denies federal benefits - like Social Security
or the ability to file joint tax returns - to legally married same-sex
couples. On procedural grounds, the court also dismissed a case considering the constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban, called Proposition 8.
Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, Sunday
on "Face the Nation" lambasted the judges' "activism," arguing they had
"dragged 'We the people' from behind the wheel of this republic, and
they've carjacked the nation." Still, he took some solace in the Prop. 8
ruling, which left in place a lower court's decision to strike down the
measure but effectively passed up an opportunity to define whether
marriage is a constitutionally protected right for all couples, gay or
"Certainly both these cases were disappointing,
although I have to say on the California case, the Prop. 8 case... they
actually wanted to use that case to impose same-sex marriage on the
entire nation, and they failed in that - the court simply punted it back
to California," Perkins said. Showcasing that move as something of a
silver lining for conservatives, Perkins added it "buys a little time"
for his and other organizations that oppose same-sex marriage to attract
public support on their side.
"I think Americans will begin to see that with
same-sex marriage does not come a hope chest; rather it's a Pandora's
box," he said. "It's the reality that people will come face-to-face with
over time, because right now same-sex marriage is limited to 12
jurisdictions. And as more people see that their freedoms, the freedoms
of parents to determine what their children are taught, to be able to
live your life according to your faith, all of that's at risk here. I
think people will say, 'Wait a minute... I gave a nod of affirmation,
but not to that.' And so I do think there's going to be time to rethink
John Eastman, an attorney for the National Organization
for Marriage, also pointed to time as his cause's most probable ally. He
argued the effects of the Supreme Court rulings are "not going to
happen overnight - it's going to take root over time." And, mentioning
as an example North Carolina's Amendment 1 - a ballot initiative that
made it unconstitutional for the state to recognize same-sex marriage -
Eastman added that legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states would
be a trying task.
While mostly ignoring the court's punt,
same-sex marriage advocates have similarly rallied around the Prop. 8
ruling, calling for it to be a precedent for the rest of the states,
rather than as a springboard for political what-ifs. Davis Boies - the
attorney who argued the Prop. 8 case Hollingsworth v. Perry before the
Supreme Court - also appearing on CNN said there "isn't any state we're
giving up on" in the effort to legalize same-sex marriage across the
"I don't want to get in today with what are the states
we're going to target first or anything like that, because there isn't
any state we're giving up on," Boies said Sunday. Groups like the Human
Rights Campaign and the American Foundation for Equal Rights, he said,
will zero in on legislative efforts, state ballot initiatives and legal
"Our goal is to have marriage equality that's
guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, enforced in every single state in
the union," he said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi,
D-Calif., also nodded to the somewhat awkward discrepancy of a
far-reaching ruling that doesn't dictate state-by-state law. Asked
whether same-sex marriage could be the law of the land within five
years, she said on NBC's "Meet the Press," "Well, I would certainly hope
"I've been in this, shall we say, 'crusade,' for a long
time," she said. "And to see the pace with which it has accelerated in
the past few years is very encouraging. Let's hope it's even sooner than
It's no longer a Democrat-versus-Republican issue. Former
Solicitor General Ted Olson, a self-described conservative who argued
in favor of same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court, just before
Perkins's spot on "Face the Nation" predicted the Supreme Court's
response to Proposition 8 supporters requesting injunctions in their
case: "I don't believe they can be successful," he said. "They lost in
the district court, they lost in the court of appeals and they've lost
in the United States Supreme Court. They lost in the California Supreme
Olson's forecast was proven correct Sunday afternoon, when Supreme
Court Justice Anthony Kennedy denied a request from Proposition 8
supporters to stop the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in
California. Olson opined that the United States would "be better off in
this country if we stopped doing this sort of thing that is divisive and
is hurting people who live next door, who work for us, who are our
cousins and brothers and sisters.
"...We should be treating all
of our citizens equally, irrespective of their sexual orientation," he
continued. "This is something that they did not choose to be."
the Supreme Court's decisions for signaling "equality for so many of
our citizens who for so long have been discriminated against," Olson
said the Supreme Court's ruling "removed that stigma. ...And you can see
joy - tears of joy and happiness in hundreds of thousands of people
getting married in California to the person that they love."
A self-described conservative and the solicitor general in the Reagan
and Bush administrations, Olson forecasted a shift among both parties
in how same-sex marriage is treated.
"Some Republicans have not
yet come to understand that this is the right thing for all of our
country to do," he said. "But, as I said, the polls have change
enormously. ...Republicans are changing, Democrats are changing. I think
the day is going to come, maybe within just a few years, when the
Republican party - just like the Democratic party - all Americans
believe in equal treatment for all of our citizens."
meanwhile, argued his fight isn't just about "a marriage altar... it's
literally about altering the landscape of America."
to see a loss of religious freedom, there is no question about it - it's
already happening," Perkins said. "We're already seeing bakers and
florists and photographers forced to participate in same-sex marriages
under the threat of law and, in some cases, even jail. I can't think of
anything that's more un-American than that."
Perkins said that in
states like Washington and Colorado, which house anti-discrimination
statutes, "when a same-sex couple comes and says, 'I want you to take
pictures of my wedding,' or, 'I want you to bake a cake,' and they say,
'Well look, my religious convictions will not allow me to participate in
that,' they're literally being sued by the government, not the
individuals. And they've even been adjudicated in such places as New
Ralph Reed, head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition that
recently flooded Washington, took particular issue with the
characterization of his supporters as being "bigots."
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow whether he and his fellow opponents of same-sex
marriage are trying to discriminate against gays and lesbians, Reed
fired back: "By that argument, was Barack Obama intolerant 14 months
ago?" Listing public servants who were for DOMA before they were against
it - including Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. -
Reed challenged, "all voted for this law, and Bill Clinton, who signed
it into law, were intolerant and motivated by an animus toward gays?
"Obama was 14 months ago," he said. "Was he a bigot 14 months ago?"