CBS News has highlighted five potential outcomes of the Supreme Court hearing and decision over Proposition 8, the 2008 California constitutional ban to recognize only marriages between men and women in The Golden State:
1. Same-sex marriage is constitutionally protected nationwide: SCOTUS could use Hollingsworth v. Perry to rule that marriage is a constitutional right available to all Americans, gay or straight.
2. Same-sex marriage is not constitutionally protected: The Court could also declare that same-sex marriage is not protected by the Constitution, setting the gay rights movement back as much as 25 years. It is unclear how LGBT rights organizations would react to this — as recent polling shows a majority of Americans support marriage equality.
3. No difference between marriage and civil unions: The Supreme Court could decide that states that recognize same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships, and provide them with nearly the same benefits of marriage, cannot legitimately bar same-sex marriage. This is also the argument the Obama administration put forward.
4. Same-sex marriage is protected in the state of California: The Supreme Court ruling could apply just to California "because of the case's unique circumstances." According to CBS News, while this option wouldn't extend same-sex marriage across the country, "gay rights activists would still consider it a victory."
5. Dismiss the case on procedural grounds: SCOTUS could decide the proponents of Proposition 8 have no standing in court and dismiss the case entirely. Normally, California's governor and attorney general would defend a state law in court. But in this case, they declined to appeal.