Washington - March 27, 2013

1. SOUNDBITE: Rev. Rob Schenck / Chairman, Evangelical Church Alliance

"We have urged in our brief that this court take into consideration and explicitly guarantee the religious freedom of military chaplains, civilian chaplains who are under orders by federal authorities as well as other clergy who are required by law to swear an oath to uphold the Constitution and in this case, may in fact have their authority to solemnize marriages held in doubt. So today is an historic day in an argument in the court and puts at risk the religious liberties of duly authorized clergy and particularly those who are under the authority of the federal government such as the hundreds of military chaplains in this country."


Washington - March 27, 2013

2. SOUNDBITE: Malitzin Martinez / College Park, MD.

"I think it's very important to protect traditional marriage because that's where families start, you know. That's like the foundation of society is heterosexual families. Unfortunately homosexual families are not very natural, you know. They need to adopt babies, they need artificial insemination and all of that, because that's now how God designed us to be. He designed us to be one male for one female."


In a major gay rights case, the Supreme Court indicated Wednesday it could strike down the law that prevents legally married gay couples from receiving a range of federal benefits that go to other married people.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the decisive vote in close cases, joined the four more liberal justices in raising questions about a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that is being challenged at the court.

Kennedy said the law appears to intrude on the power of states that have chosen to recognize same-sex marriages. Other justices said the law creates what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called two classes of marriage, full and "skim-milk marriage."

The federal law affects a range of benefits available to married couples, including tax breaks, survivor benefits and health insurance for spouses of federal employees.

It still is possible the court could dismiss the case for procedural reasons, though that prospect seemed less likely than it did in Tuesday's argument over gay marriage in California.

The motivation behind the 1996 federal law, passed by large majorities in Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton, was questioned repeatedly by Justice Elena Kagan.

She read from a House of Representatives report explaining that the reason for the law was "to express moral disapproval of homosexuality." The quote produced an audible reaction in the courtroom.

Paul Clement, representing the House Republican leadership in defending the law, said the more relevant question is whether Congress had "any rational basis for the statute." He supplied one, the federal government's interest in treating same-sex couples the same no matter where they live.