By KYW Community Affairs reporter Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Same sex marriage takes center stage today as the US Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the issue, and marriage equality advocates are cautiously optimistic.
“The speed with which the law has reacted and changed is breathtaking,” says Mark Aronchick, lead attorney on the Whitewood case that cleared the way for marriage equality in Pennsylvania last May. He has a coveted ticket to sit in the US Supreme Court chambers today to listen to the history-making oral arguments. The issue, whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, is one the court refused to address two years ago.
“I think the Supreme Court is going to end this controversy once and for all,” says Aronchick.
“Everybody’s getting increasingly nervous because, boy, the stakes are really high here,” says Vic Walczak, legal director at the ACLU of Pennsylvania. He also worked on the Whitewood case and while he won’t witness today’s oral arguments, he’s predicting the nation’s highest court will follow the trend set in motion by the Windsor case in 2013.
“They ducked the issue two years ago, but now I think marriage equality advocates are cautiously optimistic,” says Walczak. “Predicting a Supreme Court outcome is like reading tea leaves, but they’re likely to come out on the right side.”
The arguments come from six cases from four states: Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.
“For equality to be guaranteed no matter where we are in America would be tremendous,” says Helena Miller. She married Dara Raspberry in Connecticut five years ago. But when they moved to Pennsylvania in 2011 to be closer to family, their marriage was not recognized. So the couple joined 23 other plaintiffs in the Whitewood lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s governor, and won.
“We were beyond delighted and thrilled,” says Miller. She and her wife have one child and another on the way, and she says they’re watching what happens at the Supreme Court.
“This still has a great weight upon our lives and we’re eager to see what their decision is,” she says.
“I’m very excited that at last it’s coming to the Supreme Court,” says David Palmer. He and his husband, Ed Hill, are also plaintiffs in the Whitewood case. Today they’ll be rallying in Washington, DC, outside the US Supreme Court building along with other couples from same-sex marriage lawsuits across the country.
“I am very hopeful that marriage equality is going to be a national right for all gay, lesbian and transgender people,” he says.
KYW Newsradio will provide a summary of the SCOTUS oral arguments as the day continues.