Peter Dreier: Is the Supreme Court Going to Settle for "States' Rights" on Same-Sex Marriage?

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Peter Dreier is professor of politics and chair of the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His new book, "The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame," was just published by Nation Books.

Should the states decide whether black Americans can marry white Americans?

Today that idea seems absurd. Most Americans believe that states shouldn't be allowed to trample the basic right of interracial couples to marry - even if a majority of people in a state want to do so. It would be unfair - a clear violation of equal rights. That's one reason we have a federal government.

In 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, the nation's highest court knocked down state anti-miscegenation laws.

Now the nation - and the Supreme Court - confront a very similar situation, only this time the issue is same-sex marriage.

Last week, the court heard arguments in two cases related to same-sex marriage. Justices are being asked to rule on whether California's Proposition 8 (which voters approved in 2008 to outlaw gay marriage) and the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (which defines marriage as heterosexual and requires the federal government to deny benefits to gay and lesbian couples married in states that allow same-sex unions) are Constitutional....



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