PHOTO: The court is scheduled to hear arguments on whether Congress can withhold federal benefits from legally …
All times are E.T.
Today is the second day of arguments at the Supreme Court over gay marriage. The justices will consider the second separate case.
Yesterday, the Justices considered whether the California gay marriage ban enacted by Proposition 8 is constitutional.
Today, lawmakers will hear arguments about the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed with broad bipartisan support in 1996 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. DOMA defines marriage as between one man and a woman and denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in their states.
But as states begin to OK gay marriage - nine currently allow it - same-sex married couples will expect the same federal benefits that straight couples get.
We noted earlier today that brands were coming out for marriage equality across the web.
Now ABC's Jilian Fama has the scoop on why companies would spend the time and money to take a stand on this particular political issue:
According to the Harvard Business Review, this type of advertising is a profitable business strategy for these companies. It boosts employee recruitment and retention and meets marketplace demands.
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, said "America's corporations learned long ago that equality is just good business and it's the right thing to do" when he announced his support for marriage equality in a Human Rights Campaign public service announcement earlier this year.
But support for the cause does alienate some people as well. Last year, a boycott was launched by the National Organization for Marriage when Starbucks announced its support for Washington's state's referendum backing gay marriage.
And recently a shareholder of the coffee giant complained to CEO Howard Schultz that the company had lost customers because of its support for gay marriage.
— Dan Milano (@DanMilanoABC) March 27, 2013
The well-respected Supreme Court publication SCOTUSBLOG, which had reporters inside the court for arguments, offered a quick prediction for how the court will rule on the law that makes marriage in the United States limited to heterosexual couples.
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) March 27, 2013
We won't know if the blog was correct to give such good chances to the DOMA opposition until the court hands down their ruling in June.
Click the photo to see even more variations on the Human Rights Campaign symbol that is setting the internet on fire.
Social Media's Equality Symbol
As the highest court in the land considers gay marriage, immigration seems to have taken a backseat in the political landscape - at least for a day or two - but Fusion's Emily DeRuy explains how the two issues are connected:
The issue of whether the federal government's definition of marriage should expand to include gay couples that's currently making its way through the U.S. Supreme Court is particularly poignant for immigrant couples like Santiago Ortiz and Pablo Garcia. The ruling could mean a lifetime together or the constant fear of separation.
Ortiz, a Puerto Rican-American who was born in New York, and Garcia, a Venezuelan native, fell in love a quarter century ago and married in Connecticut in May 2011. The couple wanted to live together, especially since Ortiz is HIV-positive and they were unsure how long he might have. So Garcia got a six-month tourist visa in the late 1980s and was able to renew it for one year.
But the federal government doesn't recognize the two men as relatives, meaning Garcia cannot get a green card as Ortiz's husband. Unable to renew the visa again and ineligible for a green card, the couple made the decision to have Garcia stay in the country without papers, and he has lived that way for more than 20 years.
— John R Parkinson (@jparkABC) March 27, 2013
— John R Parkinson (@jparkABC) March 27, 2013
— Yahoo! News (@YahooNews) March 27, 2013
Check out ABC News' storify for the best tweets and Facebook posts about today's hearing at the Supreme Court.
— Rep. Steven Horsford (@RepHorsford) March 27, 2013
Click the photo below to see variations people have made on the Human Rights Symbol for marriage equality.
PHOTO: The Oatmeal used the internet's currency, bacon, to depict equality.
Will be live on abcn.ws/live in a few moments talking HRC campaign
— Dan Milano (@DanMilanoABC) March 27, 2013
NYC Pride announced last night that the plaintiff in the case against the Defense of Marriage Act, Edith Windsor, has been selected to lead the gay pride parade in New York City this year.
Windsor will march along side Harry Belafonte and Earl Fowlkes as Grand Marshals for the 44th annual LGBT parade.
Managing Director of NYC Pride Chris Frederick called the leaders "great waves in a sea of hope."
We're all behind you Edie! Good luck to our Grand Marshal, Edith Windsor, as her case goes before the Supreme Court. twitter.com/NYCPride/statu…
— New York City Pride (@NYCPride) March 27, 2013
— John R Parkinson (@jparkABC) March 27, 2013
ABC's Sunlen Miller reports:
Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., is the latest senator to announce that she now supports gay marriage.
"Marriage equality is a complex issue with strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for varying opinions on the issue," Hagan wrote on her Facebook page this morning, "After much thought and prayer, I have come to my own personal conclusion that we shouldn't tell people who they can love or who they can marry."
To note, Hagan faces a tough reelection campaign next year, widely seen as one of a handful of races that pose the best opportunity for Republicans to pick up a seat.
Hagan brings the list of Democratic senators who have announced support for gay marriage in the past week up to six.
Senators Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Mark Begich, D-Alaska , Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Mark Warner, D-Va. and Jon Tester, D-Mont., have spoken out in support of doing away with DOMA since Sunday.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi published an op-ed today urging the Supreme Court Justices to rule Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
The Congresswoman from California starts out telling the story of Edith Windsor, the woman behind the case against DOMA, and goes on to say that she plans to hear the arguments today with two of her constituents.
"The only national leaders still standing on the wrong side of history are House Republicans, who have used taxpayer dollars to pay outside counsel to defend discrimination," Pelosi writes. "The Republican-approved lawyers have lost in every case and appealed each ruling. So the fight goes on."
Pelosi's Republican counterpart, House Speaker John Boehner said last week that he will rely on the judges to decide about the laws' constitutionality.
"In our system of government, the administration doesn't get to decide what's constitutional. The Supreme Court does," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "Our financing the lawsuit was to make sure that the proper forum was used to make sure that we know what's constitutional and what isn't."
Sen. Frank Lautenberg changed his avatar on Twitter to show support for same-sex marriage.
— Frank R. Lautenberg (@FrankLautenberg) March 27, 2013
Newark Mayor Cory Booker also changed his avatar and tweeted back at followers who had condemned his decision.
"God's law" has been used 2 subjugate women, blacks & even justify slavery. RT @ yung_boss Is the law of the land more sacred over God's law?
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) March 27, 2013
New Jersey is not one of the nine states where gay marriage is legal. In February of 2012 Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have legalized it.
ABC's Matthew Larotonda reports from outside the Supreme Court:
The plaza in front of the Court is nearly as packed as it was yesterday, albeit at lower density. Overflow is starting to form across the street in front of the Capitol. Once again gay rights demonstrators dwarf their opposition. A handful of traditional marriage conservatives can be found among the crowd, which numbers at least a thousand.
Marcos Dominguez-German is one of those in the majority and was one of the first demonstrators to appear early in the morning.
Dominguez-German became a U.S. citizen after seeking asylum for "persecution" of his homosexuality in his native Brazil. He is legally married in Massachusetts.
"If I didn't have that asylum and just married my husband I wouldn't be able to stay here," he said. "I wouldn't be able to stay here because the federal government doesn't recognize same sex marriages."
Clutching his two small dogs and a gay pride flag, he said the government's failure to recognize all gay married couples amounted to "taxation without representation."
There is yet a third faction here, separated by a noticeable air gap: About a half dozen members of the Westboro Baptist Church.
"America is doomed" says one of their signs, and "God hates fags."
But not far off from their corner is another man holding a tote bag with a peculiar text emblazoned on the side: "God hates bags," it reads.
ABC's Ariane de Vogue reports:
There will be opinions released at 10 a.m. and arguments will follow soon after. Arguments will be one hour and 50 minutes. Transcripts and audio will be released around noon.
At issue: Does a federal law that denies benefits to same sex couples who are legally married in their state violate the Constitution? When 83-year-old Edie Windsor's wife died, Windsor sought a refund of federal estate taxes that is available to married couples. She was denied under DOMA which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
The fact that the case reached the Supreme Court reflects years of strategy on behalf of major gay rights groups. Initially, they didn't support the Prop 8 challenge because they felt the Justices might be more receptive to the DOMA case. It allows the Court to take a more gradual step on a divisive issue.
Jurisdictional issues up first Vicki C. Jackson, Court appointed lawyer - 20 minutes Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan - 15 minutes Paul D. Clement - 15 minutes Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group - 15 minutes
Merits: Paul D. Clement, BLAG - 30 minutes Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr - 15 minutes Roberta A. Kaplan for Edie Windsor - 15 minutes
PHOTO: Protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church held signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court ahead of arguments …
ABC's Matthew Larotonda and John Parkinson report the Westboro Baptist Church has more protesters out at today's hearing than they did yesterday.
Yesterday pro-marriage equality protesters countered the Church's group with their own signs and music, dancing right alongside the Westboro picketers.
Today they incorporated the group into their signs.
Love this guy's sign! Take that, Westboro Baptist Church! twitter.com/chrisjohnson82…
— Chris Johnson (@chrisjohnson82) March 27, 2013
Individual Facebook users weren't the only ones posting the red equal-sign to show their support for same-sex marriage. Yesterday Bud Light posted a photo on their Facebook feed, forming the equal-sign on a red background with two cans of their beer.
ABC's Jilian Fama will report throughout the day about what other brands are picking sides in these court cases. If you see some to include, tweet them to @ABCPolitics.
ABC's Dan Milano reports:
They're popping up on Facebook news feeds around the nation, but without much explanation. Just what are those red equal-sign Facebook profile pictures all about? Look no further than the Human Rights Campaign, an organization in support of gay marriage that is running a particularly successful social media initiative as the Supreme Court discusses the issue over the next two days.
In a Facebook post yesterday, the HRC asked gay marriage supporters to "paint the town red," wearing red in their wardrobe as well on their Facebook pages, changing profile photos over to the HRC "=" logo. The idea has even caught the eyes of Congress, with 13 members showcasing the symbol, according to Ryan Beckwith.
The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in two landmark cases concerning gay marriage this week. Justices will consider the legal merit and standing of challenges to California's Proposition 8 law banning gay marriage and to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.
With lawyers and justices taking the stage now, it's easy to forget that everyday people have a stake in this fight.
ABC's Chris Good and Ariane de Vogue explain what today's case is all about:
Since 1996, the federal government has defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
That could change if proponents of gay marriage succeed before the Supreme Court.
For the second straight day, the nation's highest court will hear arguments in a high-profile case on gay marriage, one of the hottest social issues in America.
Today, they will hear arguments in a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law signed by President Bill Clinton that defined marriage as heterosexual and denied federal benefits to gay couples, who are legally married in their state.
Between the two cases, the Supreme Court could issue a landmark ruling on gay marriage by the end of June.
The DOMA challenge was brought by Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old woman from New York who married Thea Clara Spyer in 2007. After Spyer's death in 2009, Windsor was denied an exemption of federal estate taxes.
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