Justices hear arguments on Calif. gay marriage ban
WASHINGTON - A lawyer seeking an end to California's ban on same-sex marriage is comparing it to bans on interracial marriages, a prohibition the Supreme Court declared illegal decades ago.
In charged back-and-forth exchanges with justices, lawyer Theodore Olson said that the court should look to its 1967 Loving case, when the court invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
Chief Justice John Roberts told Olson that it seemed supporters of gay marriage were trying to change the meaning of the word "marriage" by including same-sex couples.
Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested that throwing out California's ban could take the Supreme Court into "uncharted waters." But Olson responded that the court did just that when it threw out bans on interracial marriage.
Justices could make a decision later this year, though justices raised the prospect of possibly not issuing a substantial ruling. Several justices raised doubts that the case is properly before them. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the potentially decisive vote on a closely divided court, suggested that the court could dismiss the case with no ruling at all.