TIME Supreme Court

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Emphasizes ‘Constitution’ at Gay Wedding

Allison Shelley—Getty Images U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at an annual Women's History Month reception hosted by Pelosi in the U.S. capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on March 18.

The Court may rule on same-sex marriage in June

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presided over another same-sex wedding in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, just over a month before the Court may decide whether gay marriage is constitutional.

The New York Times reports that Ginsburg, sporting her traditional black robe and white collar, officiated the nuptials of Michael Kahn and Charles Mitchem at the Anderson House during an afternoon ceremony. While doing so, she was said to have put special emphasis on the word “Constitution” in closing that the two were now wed by the powers vested in her by that document.

What Ginsburg intended with that reference is unclear, but it did bring a loud applause. The Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage could come in June.

[NYT]

Read next: What’s at Stake as the Supreme Court Returns to Gay Marriage

TIME Music

Pedestrian Signals in Vienna Are Getting a LGBT-Friendly Makeover

A combination of photos shows gay-themed traffic lights in Vienna May 11, 2015.
Heinz-Peter Bader—Reuters A combination of photos shows gay-themed traffic lights in Vienna May 11, 2015.

That can mean only one thing: the Eurovision Song Contest.

The Austrian capital Vienna is gearing up to host the 60th annual Eurovision Song Contest — which has developed a large LGBT following —by refurbishing pedestrian signal lights at road crossings to feature gay-friendly symbols.

The updated lights will now tell pedestrians not to walk by flashing outlines of same-sex couples standing with their arms around one another or holding hands. A gay couple walking beneath a love heart tells pedestrians that it is safe to cross.

A city official told Reuters that Vienna hopes to present itself as an open-minded city ahead of the event.

The city also believes the move might help with traffic safety because the unconventional signals will make pedestrians look twice. Officials plan on collecting data to see if the hypothesis holds true.

The Eurovision Song Contest has launched the careers of pop icons Celine Dion and ABBA, among others. Last year’s winner was Conchita Wurst, a drag queen portrayed by Austrian Thomas Neuwirth. Wurst’s song “Rise Like a Pheonix” now boasts nearly 20 million views on YouTube.

Around 40 countries are competing in this year’s event with the final being held on May 23.

TIME 2016 Election

Top Huckabee Aide Steps Back from Gay Marriage Support

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff in Waukee, Iowa on April 25, 2015.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff in Waukee, Iowa on April 25, 2015.

He supported it in 2013 but not this year

Bob Wickers, the veteran GOP pollster and strategist and the top consultant to Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, has stepped back from an outspoken role in support of same-sex marriage as he prepares to lead the evangelical icon’s presidential campaign.

Wickers, who worked on Huckabee’s 2008 and Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaigns, signed onto a 2013 friend of the court brief encouraging the Supreme Court to overturn California’s same-sex marriage ban. But his name was absent two years later when a larger group of top GOP operatives signed an amicus brief encouraging the Supreme Court to extend same-sex marriages nationwide.

Asked about his seeming walk-back at a dinner that the presumptive Huckabee campaign organized for reporters who traveled to Arkansas, Wickers declined to offer an on-the-record explanation. But his shift mirrors that of David Kochel, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s campaign-designate, who signed the 2013 brief but dropped off the 2015 list.

Huckabee, who has discussed ways to circumvent the Supreme Court’s expected decision, is an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriages.

While campaign staffers frequently differ from their bosses on a range of positions, the divide on same-sex marriage highlights a challenge within the Republican Party, which is struggling to balance rapidly shifting demographics and public opinion with an ever-more-ardent conservative base.

TIME Supreme Court

The Man Whose Marriage Was Debated by the Supreme Court

Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the marriage equality case, speaks outside of the Supreme Court of the United States on April 28, 2015 in Washington.
Paul Morigi—Getty Images for HRC Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the marriage equality case, speaks outside of the Supreme Court of the United States on April 28, 2015 in Washington.

The sun rises behind Jim Obergefell as he stands below the Supreme Court steps early Tuesday, and it frames his head in a perfect halo.

To his surprise, he had managed to sleep — “for 3.5 hours, 3 hours more than I expected,” he says — before waking up at 4:30 a.m. to arrive at the court at 6:15. He recalled how the Capitol across the way, was pink and gray against the early blue sky, as he approached the courthouse. “As it started to get lighter, the white marble of the Supreme Court was just — it was kind of magical,” he says as he waits for the Court doors to open. “It really was.”

He shows me his wedding ring. It is two bands, his ring and his late husband John Arthur’s, fused together, with a channel cut inside to hold some of Arthur’s ashes, sealed in with gold. Arthur died in 2013 of Lou Gehrig’s disease — the same ALS illness that millions fought last summer via “ice-bucket challenges” — and Obergefell, who was raised Catholic, has been fighting ever since to be listed as his spouse on his death certificate. Ohio, where he and his late husband live, neither allows gay marriage nor recognizes marriages, like theirs, performed in other states.

In just a few hours, Obergefell would sit near the front of the country’s highest court, supported by his late husband’s aunt and alongside fellow plaintiffs from Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky. Together, their cases, argued under Obergefell v. Hodges, asks what is perhaps this generation’s greatest civil rights question: do same-sex couples should have the Constitutional right to marry?

The Justices considered two questions over the two and a half hours the court was in session. First, does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? And second, does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was performed out-of-state?

None of the lawyer’s arguments on either side were particularly new, and neither were any of the justices’ questions. What made the case compelling was hearing the same old debate play out in the highest court of the land with so much at stake.

Justice Samuel Alito asked why allowing same-sex marriage wouldn’t lead to two men marrying two women. Justice Antonin Scalia wondered if clergy would be required to perform wedding ceremonies for unions to which they object. Chief Justice John Roberts asked if denying gay marriage was sexual discrimination. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that the definition of marriage has already changed.

By the time the court emptied into the plaza outside, the warm midday sun had fully risen over hundreds of supporters and protesters awaited, some cheering, some yelling, others just there amid the signs and coffee cups that littered the ground like the end of a long day at the state fair.

Legal scholars will now pore over the transcript and the briefs, examine the merits and point out the flaws. But no matter the decision the Court hands down in two months, Obergefell matters most for the people, like Obergefell himself, that it represents. “Right now is what creates the urgency for the court to decide whether the states are denying people basic equality,” Mary L. Bonauto, the lawyer who argued for the right of same sex marriage at the Court, says.

Perhaps that’s why one moment, minutes before attorney Douglas Hallward-Driemeier finished his closing argument, meant the world to Obergefell himself. “Douglas mentioned my name and John’s name, and our marriage, and why we were there,” he says, his voice catching, ever so slightly. “That was when it all sunk in.”

Ohio may not recognize Obergefell’s marriage yet, but for a brief moment in the Supreme Court Tuesday, attention was paid.

TIME Supreme Court

The Supreme Court’s Conservatives Switch Sides in Gay Marriage Logic

Supreme Court Gay Marriage
Jose Luis Magana—AP Demonstrators stand in front of a rainbow flag of the Supreme Court in Washington on April 28, 2015.

Supreme Court justices met Tuesday for the second time in two years to debate the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans. The case could lead to a decision that would outlaw the bans across the country this June

Should the Supreme Court take into account the opinions of the rest of the world when reading the Constitution? In the past, some conservative justices have argued it should not, but they seemed to take the opposite tack Tuesday when debating gay marriage.

“Do you know of any society, prior to the Netherlands in 2001, that permitted same-sex marriage?” Justice Antonin Scalia asked an attorney representing gay couples who wanted their marriages to be recognized. “You’re asking us to decide (whether to approve same-sex marriage) for this society when no other society until 2001 ever had it.”

Jumping off that question, Justice Samuel Alito noted that even though there have been cultures that “did not frown on homosexuality” — such as ancient Greece — they did not recognize same-sex marriage either.

And Chief Justice John Roberts talked about how limiting marriage to a man and a woman was “a universal aspect of marriage around the world.”

The implication was clear: Other countries haven’t recognized same-sex marriage, therefore the United States doesn’t need to either.

In the past, Scalia in particular has taken a dim view of that same logic when applied to other topics. In 2005, Justice Anthony Kennedy cited international law in a majority opinion which held that imposing the death penalty on Americans under the age of 18 was a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.”

“The overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty is not controlling here, but provides respected and significant confirmation for the Court’s determination that the penalty is disproportionate punishment for offenders under 18,” he wrote in a footnote to Roper v. Simmons.

That inspired a sharp rebuke in a dissenting opinion from Scalia, who argued that the court should not “take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures.”

“I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment … should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners,” he wrote.

In politics, this kind of reversal is typically greeted with condemnation, catcalls of “flip flopping” and hypocrisy. But Eugene Volokh, a constitutional law professor at UCLA, said that it wouldn’t be fair to level the same accusations against the justices.

Oral arguments like Tuesday’s hearing are more freewheeling, he said. The justices aren’t necessarily laying out eternal principles as they are trying on different arguments for size, seeing what kind of reaction they got. Sometimes, like guests at a long-running dinner party, they’re just trying to needle each other or make something akin to an inside joke with each other.

Volokh noted that Kennedy, who is expected to be the swing vote in favor of gay marriage in this case, had cited a decision in the European Court of Human Rights and a committee report to the British Parliament in a 2003 decision overturning sodomy laws, a key precedent in this case.

“There might be a little bit of tweaking going on here,” he said. “In a way he’s saying, you were willing to look at international matters there, are you willing to look at them here now?”

There’s also a substantive case to be made. Conservative justices such as Scalia believe that the Constitution makes America unique and separates our legal traditions from the rest of the world, which means the opinions of other countries don’t matter when you’re interpreting, say, the Eighth Amendment, but they might matter if you were trying to show that there’s nothing prejudiced about banning gay marriage.

Still, the accusation of flip flops stings in politics for a reason. Supreme Court justices can argue for American exceptionalism one week and for following world opinion in another, but it won’t help them in the truly highest court in the land: the court of public opinion.

TIME Supreme Court

What’s at Stake as the Supreme Court Returns to Gay Marriage

Supreme Court Gay Marriage
Andrew Harnik—AP An American flag and a rainbow colored flag flies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, April 27, 2015, as the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage on Tuesday.

The fight over gay marriage may be nearing an end

Just two years ago, the Supreme Court debated the constitutional implications of same-sex marriage. As it returned to the issue Tuesday, the underlying facts that it will take into consideration have changed substantially.

When the court heard arguments on two cases in March of 2013, gay marriage was still a live issue. Just 11 states recognized same-sex marriage, while a majority of Americans had only recently begun to tell pollsters that they approved.

Today, 37 states recognize gay marriage, many of which did so after federal judges took the logic of the Supreme Court’s previous rulings further. The trend toward acceptance has only solidified, reaching a record 61 percent of Americans in one recent poll.

The justices themselves have personally mirrored this trend, with liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan officiating at gay weddings since the last decision.

Court watchers predict that a slim majority of justices — led by swing vote Anthony Kennedy — will finish what they started two years ago, finding a way to get all 50 states to recognize gay marriage. The question, then, is how they will do so.

The case they are considering, Obergefell v. Hodges, is named for James Obergefell, who married his now-deceased partner in Maryland, where gay marriage is legal, but cannot have his marriage recognized in Ohio, where it is not.

The court has several options to resolve the case. The justices could narrowly decide that states such as Ohio have to recognize marriage certificates from beyond their borders as a matter of legislative courtesy. Or they could more broadly decide that marriage is a constitutional right that no state may deny to gays and lesbians, forcing even reluctant states to issue same-sex marriage licenses of their own.

As with any court decision, there are a myriad of options in between, including multiple conflicting and overlapping opinions signed by different justices. But the underlying question will remain whether laws singling out gays and lesbians for different treatment—say, by barring them from marrying—deserve extra scrutiny in the same way that laws singling out ethnic or religious minorities do.

On that question, the Supreme Court has managed so far to avoid an answer, pegging opinions that expanded the equality of gays and lesbians on different arguments. It may do so again, or the justices may take the first step toward broader recognition of gay rights.

Either way, the fight over gay marriage may be nearing an end, but the debate over gay rights continues.

TIME justice

Evangelicals Divided as Supreme Court Considers Gay Marriage

Supreme Court Gay Marriage
Andrew Harnik—AP A rainbow colored flag flies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, April 27, 2015, as the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage on Tuesday.

A longtime opponent of same-sex marriage, Pastor Samuel Rodriguez gave a benediction at the last Republican National Convention, sits on the executive board of the National Association of Evangelicals and will host two likely presidential candidates, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee, at a gathering of 1,000 Hispanic leaders in Texas on Wednesday.

But if you ask the founder of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference how Republicans should react if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to legalize gay marriage nationwide this year, he doesn’t toe a very hard line. “The Republican position will not be, ‘We will fight arduously to turn back what the Supreme Court has ruled,’ ” he said. “I don’t think you will hear that at all, as a matter of fact.”

Some of Rodriguez’s fellow Republican and social conservative leaders agree, but not all. In fact, it’s hard to find a single strategic plan for opponents of same-sex marriage, many of whom plan to gather Tuesday at the Supreme Court, where the justices will meet for the second time in two years to debate the constitutionality of gay and lesbian marriage bans. The case could lead to a decision that would outlaw same-sex marriage bans this June.

Tony Perkins, the head of the conservative Family Research Council, says that if the court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, the proper strategy is to mount a campaign against judicial overreach modeled after the pro-life campaign against the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which found women had a constitutional right to an abortion. Decades after the decision, opponents of abortion continue to make legislative gains in statehouses across the country. “That issue is far from resolved and this will continue to be an issue in the political world from presidential races all the way down,” Perkins says.

Others like Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, say that the right move is to elevate the issue of marriage in the coming Republican primary contest. “From our view a bad decision will only reinforce how important it is to elect candidates who are going to be wise in appointing judges and justices,” Moore told TIME. “I don’t think a candidate who supports gay marriage could be nominated by the Republican Party right now.”

There is a third group of Christian leaders that have been encouraging even more drastic action: An effort by governors and legislatures to resist a Supreme Court ruling that strikes down bans on same-sex marriage. “Lincoln did not enforce Dred Scott decision,” Huckabee wrote in a recent email distributed by evangelical activist David Lane, referencing a court decision on slavery that helped spark the Civil War. “[A]nd there are several cases where Presidents (Jefferson and Jackson for example, which must be a challenge to Dems who celebrate Jefferson/Jackson Dinners) determined that the courts were wrong and refused to surrender to one of the three branches of government.”

“I’m stunned at the sitting Senators and Governors (Republican no less) who act as if when the SCOTUS rules, it’s forever settled,” Huckabee continued, using an acronym for the Supreme Court of the United States. “The 3 branches are EQUAL. The judicial cannot make nor enforce law.”

Read more: New Strategy Against Gay Marriage Divides 2016 Field

Those views could make for some interesting conversation among participants at Rodriguez’s conference this week. For Rodriguez, who has also been focused on issues like prison and immigration reform, the best strategy forward is to move away from the court’s decision and to start working to protect religious people and institutions who will continue to define marriage as between a man and a woman. “The major pivot will be social conservatives will say, ‘The future of American Christianity is at stake,’” Rodriguez said. “We have been labeled as bigots and homophobes when we are not, and oh boy, this election is about religious liberty and the future of American Christianity.”

But that vision assumes social conservatives speak with one voice, an outcome that is far from certain on the eve of Supreme Court arguments.

TIME LGBT

Same-Sex Military Spouses Speak of Unique Obstacles

Frequent moves and fragile parental rights highlighted ahead of Supreme Court arguments

Ashley Broadway-Mack was living in North Carolina in in 2013 when her wife Heather Mack, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, had their child Carly. But same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in North Carolina at the time, meaning Carly, now 2, couldn’t have Broadway-Mack listed as a parent on her birth certificate. Brodway-Mack eventually managed to become a legal parent to Carly after she traveled to South Carolina (where so-called “second-parent” adoptions are legal) and spent thousands of dollars to legally adopt her. Same-sex marriage became legal in North Carolina last October.

“We just want to be recognized lawfully like every other military couple and couple in the U.S,” Broadway-Mack told TIME in an interview this week. “We want our marriage to be recognized and our kids to be protected. Men and women in uniform are fighting for our rights and can’t be given the same rights they fight for.”

Stories like Broadway-Mack’s are behind a legal brief that former military officials filed to the Supreme Court ahead of hotly anticipated oral arguments next week about whether states can ban same-sex marriage—arguments many think will end in the high court ruling that marriage is a constitutionally protected right. The brief, reported by the New York Times, argues that the inconsistent state laws on same-sex marriage hurt same-sex married families, and ultimately military readiness. Gay couples in the military move frequently, and have little—if any—choice in deciding where they live. If they move from a state that recognizes their union to one that doesn’t, they are at risk of losing protections and benefits, such as spousal veteran’s benefits distributed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

”Those willing to risk their lives for the security of their country should never be forced to risk losing the protections of marriage and the attendant rights of parenthood,” the brief argues, ”simply because their service obligations require them to move to states that refuse to recognize their marriages.”

Broadway-Mack, whose wife is stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and who made headlines in 2013 when she was denied entrance to Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses, said that for gay couples who have children, the issue becomes that much more urgent.

“Before when it was just Heather and me, we were just used to it,” she said. “Now that there are kids involved, it is extremely stressful.”

Roya and Jennifer Cintron, a couple in their early 30s who both serve in the Army, met at Fort Bragg in 2009 when they were en route to their deployments in Afghanistan. They married in New York in 2013. But in February, the couple moved from New Jersey, where their marriage was legally recognized, to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, where same-sex marriage is not legal.

Roya gave birth to the couple’s twin girls, who are now almost a year old, in New Jersey. And while both parents’ names are on the girls’ birth certificates, Jennifer, who did not give birth to the girls, now has to apply to legally adopt her daughters. Roya Cintron said she was optimistic about the sea change in policies and perceptions around same-sex marriage that have been sweeping the country (the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law banning openly gay people from serving in the military was repealed in 2010). But she said the patchwork of rules still makes for anxious parents, especially in military families where at least one parent could be deployed away at any moment.

“You just never know where the military going to send you,” she said, “even overseas.”

TIME Supreme Court

New Strategy Against Gay Marriage Divides GOP 2016 Field

US Supreme Court Declines To Hear Appeals On Same-Sex Marriage Cases
Alex Wong—Getty Images People come out from the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 6, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Activists want to take on the Supreme Court

MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa—The U.S. Supreme Court’s expected decision this spring that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry will, for most, mark the end of a decades-long culture war.

But a small circle of Christian activists aren’t giving up yet — and they are already winning over some Republican presidential candidates to their last-ditch effort. Resting their hopes on an effort to redefine the role of the federal judiciary, the activists’ argument takes on a central tenet of modern American politics: that the Supreme Court has the final say on what is the law of the land.

“There are three branches of government,” Andrew Schlafly, a lawyer and conservative activist, told TIME in an interview. “If the Supreme Court overreaches on an issue, the other two branches are there to check and balance it. The Supreme Court can make that decision, but it can’t enforce its own orders in a state. That’s up to the Legislative and Executive branches.”

It’s an argument with a long history in American politics, Schlafly says. He cites the Supreme Court’s 1857 decision in the infamous Dred Scott case, which found that freed slaves were not American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in court. “The Republican Party said no, we’re not going to go along with that,” Schlafly said. “And the next President was Abraham Lincoln and he did not enforce it.”

Most mainstream constitutional scholars find that argument confounding at best, with criticism from both liberal groups and the conservative Federalist Society.

“It was established a long, long time ago that the federal judiciary has the power to interpret our Constitution and to determine what government actions are constitutional and what are unconstitutional,” said Jeremy Leaming of the progressive American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. “This is pretty basic law-school type of stuff.”

If the Supreme Court decides that same-sex-marriage bans violate the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, then that’s the end of the story, he added. “States can’t choose and pick which parts of the Constitution to uphold and which not to.”

But regardless of how the argument is received in legal circles, it’s already having a significant effect on the Republican presidential primary, where a number of candidates are working overtime to earn the support of social conservatives who are opposed to same-sex marriage.

Last week in Iowa, where evangelical voters hold particular sway, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee emphatically argued that the high court’s ruling would not be the end of the debate.

“There is no such thing as judicial supremacy,” he said at an event organized by the conservative Family Leader group. He added that “unelected black-robed judges” can overturn laws, but even when they do, “then it goes to the legislature and the Executive Branch.”

After a speech at the same summit, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum told TIME that he agrees with Huckabee. “The idea that the courts can just wave their magic wands and not only invalidate laws but pass new ones is a novel concept in the concept of judicial review,” he said. “The courts in my opinion have far exceeded their Article III authority and they need to be pushed back upon by both the Executive and the Congress.”

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has argued nine times before the Supreme Court, stopped short of saying that as President he would refuse to enforce a high court decision that found same-sex-marriage bans unconstitutional, but he wrote in a paper provided to the Conservative Republicans of Texas that he would denounce such a ruling “for what it is. Lawless activism, subverting the Constitution.” He also called on conservatives to support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as “limited to one man and one woman” and to consider removing any Supreme Court justice that had “disrespected marriage.”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has walked a similar tightrope. “Of course, court rulings must be respected, but it is the duty of the President to defend the Constitution, even when the courts won’t,” he wrote in a statement to Iowa conservative radio host Steve Deace.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul did not say that he would ignore a Supreme Court decision but called for term limits on “out of control, unelected federal judges.”

Other Republican presidential candidates have chosen to take a different route, noting their disagreement with state and federal courts’ pro-gay-marriage decisions without actively trying to undermine them.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said gay marriage was a “settled issue” in his state, while Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said court rulings must be respected. Both dropped appeals in their home states after losing same-sex-marriage cases. “For us, it’s over in Wisconsin,” Walker told reporters last fall. “The federal courts have ruled that this decision by this court of appeals decision is the law of the land, and we will be upholding it.”

After a Florida court declared same-sex marriage legal, former governor Jeb Bush said, “We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law.” All three governors have faced tough questions from some evangelical voters after conceding the fight.

Schlafly predicted that those candidates would lose support from the conservative Christian base in a Republican primary.

“I think voters are going to be extremely interested in whether a candidate is willing to stand up against overreach by the federal courts on marriage,” he said. “I think it will be a big issue — I think it will be the biggest issue.”

The Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage promises to have particular salience in the first caucus state of Iowa, where a powerful evangelical bloc has long pushed back against the idea of judges defining marriage laws. After the state supreme court ruled in favor of gay marriage in 2009, conservative activists led a successful campaign to deny three justices another term on the bench.

Some conservatives in Iowa are now hoping for a similar backlash against a federal decision. “It’s the Congress that makes the law, it’s the President that executes the law, it’s the people that can amend the Constitution,” said Iowa conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, who hosted Huckabee, Jindal, Santorum and Texas Governor Rick Perry. “The courts don’t get to do any of those.”

Last month, Deace, the Iowa radio host, asked a slice of the broad field of potential Republican candidates — Cruz, Huckabee, Walker, Perry, Paul, Rubio, Santorum, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump — to respond to an essay by John C. Eastman, a conservative professor of law, in which he made the case for ignoring a Supreme Court decision that found same-sex-marriage bans unconstitutional.

Perry, Trump and Jindal did not respond to Deace’s query. Jindal told TIME that he would wait for the court’s decision before weighing in on potential next steps.

Constitutional lawyers on both sides of the ideological divide have pushed back against these arguments. “It’s just fantastical to point to Dred Scott and the Civil War in reference to these cases,” said Leaming of the American Constitution Society. “It’s fantastical and it’s also quite frankly irresponsible.” But for some, at least, it may be good politics.

Read next: Transcript: Read Full Text of Sen. Marco Rubio’s Campaign Launch

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TIME Barack Obama

See Obama’s 20-Year Evolution on LGBT Rights

  • 1996: Obama supports domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage—at least according to the paper trail 

    Then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, shown in a 1999 file photo.
    Chicago Tribune/MCT/Getty Images Then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, shown in a 1999 file photo.

    In one campaign questionnaire that Obama filled out when running for the Illinois state Senate, he states that he supports domestic partnerships and adding sexual orientation to the Human Rights Act, the state’s civil rights law. He also says that he supports affirmative action for gays and lesbians.

    In another questionnaire for Chicago LGBT newspaper Outlines, Obama says he supports same-sex marriage. In 2009, a copy of his typed responses was unearthed and printed in the Windy City Times. “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” reads the questionnaire bearing his signature at the bottom. Later, Obama aides will dispute that he actually filled out the questionnaire himself.

  • 1998: Obama is ‘undecided’ about same-sex marriage

    Barack Obama Windy City Times
    Windy City Times Windy City Times, Vol. 24, no. 17

    Seeking reelection in Illinois, Obama fills out another questionnaire for Outlines, which the Windy City Times published in 2009. This time he says he is “undecided” whether he supports legalizing same-sex marriage or repealing an Illinois law prohibiting it.

  • 2004: Obama supports civil unions and civil rights for gays and lesbians—but insists that marriage is not a basic civil right

    “Marriage is between a man and a woman,” Obama says in an interview on Chicago public television during his U.S. Senate campaign, adding, “but what I also believe is that we have an obligation to make sure that gays and lesbians have the rights of citizenship that afford them visitations to hospitals, that allow them to transfer property to each other, to make sure they’re not discriminated against on the job.”

    He says homosexuality is not a choice and “for the most part, it is innate.” Obama distinguishes marriage from other civil rights, saying, “We have a set of traditions in place that I think need to be preserved.”

  • 2004: Obama opposes the federal Defense of Marriage Act while running for a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois. He also opposes same-sex marriage

    Barack Obama, US Senate candidate for Illinois, is greeted by delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on July, 2004.
    Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images Barack Obama, US Senate candidate for Illinois, is greeted by delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on July, 2004.

    The Defense of Marriage Act, signed by Bill Clinton, allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages legally established in other states. It previously prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, until the Supreme Court ruled that provision unconstitutional in 2013.

  • 2006: Obama questions his own opposition to same-sex marriage

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope" is displayed at a bookstore in New York City on July 14, 2008.
    Chris Hondros—Getty Images Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope" is displayed at a bookstore in New York City on July 14, 2008.

    In his memoir The Audacity of Hope, Obama recounts a story of how a lesbian supporter called him up after he had said he opposed same-sex marriage in radio interview, citing his “religious traditions” as part of the reason. She had been hurt, feeling he suggested that she and people like here were “bad people.”

    He wrote: “And I was reminded that it is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided … that Jesus’ call to love one another might demand a different conclusion.”

  • 2007: During the Democratic primary, Obama reaffirms support of ‘strong civil unions’ that offer all the rights that come with opposite-sex marriage

    During an August debate sponsored by groups like the Human Rights Campaign, he also says, “individual denominations have the right to make their own decisions as to whether they recognize same sex couples. My denomination, United Church of Christ, does. Other denominations may make a different decision.”

    Obama implies that he personally sympathizes with LGBT people, saying, “When you’re a black guy named Barack Obama, you know what it’s like to be on the outside.”

  • 2008: As a presidential candidate, Obama pledges to repeal DOMA and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ which banned the service of openly gay troops in the U.S. military

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama talks with Pastor Rick Warren during the Saddleback Forum in Lake Forrest, Calif. on Aug. 16, 2008.
    Alex Brandon—AP Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama talks with Pastor Rick Warren during the Saddleback Forum in Lake Forrest, Calif. on Aug. 16, 2008.

    He also says, repeatedly, that he is against gay marriage. “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix,” he tells pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Presidential Forum in April.

  • 2009: Obama signs the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act

    President Barack Obama hugs James Byrd Jr.'s sister, Louvon Harris during a White House reception commemorating the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, in Washington on Oct. 28, 2009.
    Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP President Barack Obama hugs James Byrd Jr.'s sister, Louvon Harris during a White House reception commemorating the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, in Washington on Oct. 28, 2009.

    The hate crime law, which Congress had first introduced in 1997, gives the Justice Department jurisdiction over crimes of violence in which a perpetrator has selected a victim because of sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as many other characteristics.

  • October 2010: Obama starts ‘evolving’ on gay marriage

    At a Q&A session with progressive bloggers, Obama says that while he has been “unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage,” times are changing and “attitudes evolve, including mine. And I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents.”

  • December 2010: Obama signs a bill repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

    President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law at the Department of the Interior in Washington on Dec. 22, 2010.
    Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law at the Department of the Interior in Washington on Dec. 22, 2010.

    The same month, he reiterates at a press conference that his stance on same-sex marriage is “constantly evolving.” By July, the Commander-in-Chief formally certifies that the military is ready for the open service of lesbian, gay and bisexual troops. Open service for transgender troops remains verboten.

  • February 2011: Obama instructs the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in court, saying that he believes it is unconstitutional

    “While both the wisdom and the legality of [DOMA] will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court,” Holder said in a statement.

  • May 2012: Obama becomes the first president to support same-sex marriage

    After Vice President Joe Biden announces his support for same-sex marriage, Obama is forced to move up a planned announcement of his change in position. In an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Obama says he has changed his mind. “At a certain point,” he said, “I’ve just concluded that — for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that — I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

  • July 2014: Obama signs an executive order protecting LGBT employees working for government contractors

    President Barack Obama holds hands with Edie Windsor after she introduced him during the Democratic National Committee LGBT Gala at Gotham Hall in New York City on June 17, 2014.
    Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images President Barack Obama holds hands with Edie Windsor after she introduced him during the Democratic National Committee LGBT Gala at Gotham Hall in New York City on June 17, 2014.

    The order applies to a group of workers that, at around 28 million, accounts for about one-fifth of the American workforce. “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people,” he says. The federal government, as well as the majority of states, do not have blanket prohibitions on LGBT discrimination.

  • December 2014: The Obama Administration interprets the Civil Rights Act as supportive of LGBT rights

    The Department of Education articulates a clear stance on gender identity, while the Department of Justice announces that all its attorneys will interpret the federal ban on sex discrimination to include discrimination against transgender Americans.

    “Under Title IX,” a memo from the Department of Education reads, a school “must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.”

    “This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

  • January 2015: Obama becomes the first president to use the word ‘transgender’ in a State of the Union address

    President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2015.
    Mandel Ngan—Pool/Getty Images President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2015.

    “As Americans, we respect human dignity,” he said. “That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

  • April 2015: Obama says that conversion therapy for minors should be banned

    US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One under a rainbow upon departure from Kingston, Jamaica on April 9, 2015.
    Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One under a rainbow upon departure from Kingston, Jamaica on April 9, 2015.

    Conversion therapy attempts to “correct” homosexual or transgender feelings. Obama’s response comes after thousands signed a White House petition in honor of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl who committed suicide by walking into traffic after being forced to go through such sessions, according to notes she left. Two states, California and New Jersey, have outlawed the practice.

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