Newswise — Two faculty experts at Indiana University Bloomington are available to comment on the ruling Wednesday by a federal judge that California’s prohibition of same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
Deborah Widiss, associate professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, has extensively researched the legal theories and litigation strategies that define how courts should think about the right to marry. Along with Nelson Tebbe of Brooklyn Law School, Widiss advances a new approach to this question in a recent article in the University of Pennsyvlania Law Review.
While Wednesday’s court ruling held that the California same-sex marriage ban violated both the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Widiss believes that same-sex marriage issues should be defined in terms of equal access to government support and recognition of the "fundamental interest" branch of equal protection law.
Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell said the legal ruling claimed that public opinion is not sufficient to deny people certain rights. Public opinion, however, also is changing, according to his research that involves interviews with more than 2,000 adults nationwide about their attitudes toward same-sex marriage.
"There's been an increasing receptiveness to include same-sex couples in people's definitions of family," said Powell, whose book, Counted Out: Same-sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family, will be published next month by the Russell Sage Foundation in conjunction with the American Sociological Association. The interviews were conducted in 2003, 2006 and 2010. "This decision, if upheld, likely will propel even more people to accept and possibly embrace same-sex couples as a family."
Powell is the James H. Rudy Professor of Sociology.