The Supreme Court hearing on Proposition 8 — which will be argued tomorrow — has the potential to transform the national civil rights landscape for gay and lesbian Americans. More so than the case involving the Defense of Marriage Act, the Prop 8 ruling could ultimately result in marriage equality being the law of the land everywhere in the United States. Gay rights advocates will be closely watching how Justice Anthony Kennedy frames his questions about what a broad SCOTUS ruling means for the states. If Kennedy appears uncomfortable with the implications of a broad ruling, that could — repeat, could — mean trouble. Kennedy is seen as the swing vote on the court, partly because he came down on the side of gay rights in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down a state anti-sodomy law, and Romer v. Evans, which struck down a Colorado measure prohibiting localities from recognizing gays and lesbians as a protected class.
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