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from The Great Debate:

Court due to make second trip down the aisle

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Near the end of his engaging and informative e-book on the Supreme Court’s recent same-sex marriage decisions, To Have and To Uphold, New York Times reporter Adam Liptak makes a prediction: “The day will come when the constitutional question [over the constitutionality of a ban on same-sex marriage] will return to the Supreme Court for some final mopping up, perhaps when the number of states still banning same-sex marriage has dwindled to a score or fewer.”

Though I agree with much of Liptak’s book, I think he’s wrong on this particular prediction: The constitutionality of bans on same-sex marriage will return to the Supreme Court sooner rather than later -- and it will happen while more than a score of states  still ban the practice. What the court does then is anyone’s guess.

There’s good historical precedent for Liptak’s prediction. Take the case of poll taxes, which required people to pay money (including back taxes) in order to be able to vote. The Supreme Court in 1937 upheld poll taxes, provided they were not applied in a racially discriminatory way. But states started doing away with them, and the country passed the 24th Amendment to ban them in federal elections.

When four states still used poll taxes in state elections, the Supreme Court in a 1966 case, Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, held the practice unconstitutional. It was classic Liptakian “mopping up.”

from Full Focus:

Photos of the week

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Our top photos from the past week.

from The Great Debate:

Republicans won’t embrace same-sex marriage anytime soon

In the wake of Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman's  announcement that his son is gay, and his son’s coming out prompting  the senator to support gay marriage, it has become  commonplace to assert that Republicans are about to flip-flop on the gay marriage issue. Activists on both sides seem to agree. The Log Cabin Republicans triumphantly declared: “If there was any doubt that the conservative logjam on the issue of civil marriage for committed gay and lesbian couples has broken, Senator Portman's support for the freedom to marry has erased it.” On Sunday, Karl Rove appeared to take leave of his senses when he said he could imagine the 2016 Republican presidential nominee supporting legal same-sex marriage. And with the Supreme Court set to hear a challenge to gay marriage bans this week, many observers are predicting that one or more conservative justices will join with the Court's liberal wing to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, and possibly California’s Proposition 8 as well.

On the other side, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has warned that, “If the RNC abandons marriage, evangelicals will either sit the elections out completely – or move to create a third party. Either option puts Republicans on the path to a permanent minority.”

from The Great Debate:

Same-sex marriage: Court on the couch

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Will Justice Anthony Kennedy’s support for a constitutional right to gay marriage doom the constitutionality of affirmative action and a key provision of the Voting Rights Act?  To answer this question, legal scholars need to know less about constitutional law and more about human psychology.

Consider  last year, when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, for example, surprisingly sided with the court’s four liberal members in upholding President Barack Obama’s healthcare law against constitutional challenge. It was a stunning choice for the conservative jurist. The reaction of Nate Persily, a leading U.S. election law scholar, was: “There goes the Voting Rights Act.”

from Photographers' Blog:

A family with two moms

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Chicago, Illinois

By Jim Young

Ava and Jaidon have two moms. Theresa Volpe is “mommy” and her partner Mercedes Santos is “mama”.

GALLERY: TWO MOMS, TWO KIDS, ONE FAMILY

They have been together for over 20 years. They met each other while working for the same publishing company in Chicago in 1992. Theresa says that Mercedes is the person she was meant to spend her life with, she just happens to be another woman.

from Full Focus:

Two moms, two kids, one family

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Ava and Jaidon have two moms. Theresa Volpe is “mommy” and her partner Mercedes Santos is “mama”. Santos and Volpe are a same-sex couple raising two of their biological children as they struggle to get same-sex marriages passed into law in Illinois. Photographer Jim Young spent time documenting the family. Read Jim's personal account.

from The Great Debate:

Same-sex marriage does not threaten birth rates or child-rearing

Several years ago the trial judge presiding over the federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8 asked Charles J. Cooper, the lead lawyer defending the voter-approved measure, how the recognition of same-sex marriages affected heterosexual couples. Apparently caught by surprise, Cooper, a former assistant attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, candidly answered that he did not know.

Cooper will undoubtedly be better prepared to answer a version of the same question when he appears before the Supreme Court this week. The brief he filed with the court explains that the recognition of same-sex marriage disconnects marriage from procreation and that heterosexuals are less likely to procreate responsibly if gay couples are permitted to marry. The brief cites studies showing that nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended and that children do better when raised by married parents. According to the brief, the institution of marriage was created to address the biological reality that different-sex couples can procreate. In contrast, society does not have a similar interest in allowing same-sex couples to marry because their sexual intimacy does not lead to the creation of children.

from Tales from the Trail:

After gay marriage shift, high profile Romney backer switches to Obama

An openly gay, big-dollar donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign is asking for his money back after Vice President Joe Biden followed by President Barack Obama – embraced gay marriage, the New York consultant told Reuters on Monday.

“When I heard Biden say he was comfortable with men marrying men I almost fell off my chair,” said Bill White, 42, a registered independent who has supported politicians across the political spectrum, including both President Bushes and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and who maxed out during the Republican primary for Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor.

from The Great Debate:

Republicans could join Obama on same-sex marriage

In finally evolving to support marriage equality, President Obama has not only placed himself firmly on the right side of history with respect to an issue of fundamental rights and justice but he has also thrown down the gauntlet for Republicans, especially his presumed challenger, Mitt Romney.

In his comments to ABC News, the president said his attitude toward gay marriage has been shaped over time by voters and members of his own staff "who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together" – who are clearly in love. In other words, the president let the human reality around him shape his personal views and will now lead accordingly – a stark contrast, say, with Mitt Romney, who seems to have little grasp of the struggles and experiences of actual voters and instead rotates his political viewpoints as often as he rotates the cars on his vehicle elevator. In President Obama's "evolution," America saw a leader who is not afraid to be wrong and not afraid to change his mind. It's refreshing.

from Tales from the Trail:

RuPaul to Republicans — don’t be a drag

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Drag queen RuPaul crashed New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary scene on Saturday to clear up a possible case of mistaken identity for voters who might not have been paying close attention.

Most would not mistake the notorious celebrity -- singer, actor, reality TV star and the first drag queen supermodel -- for Ron Paul, the crusty, 76-year-old Congressman and former obstetrician. But just in case…

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