By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – Two days of arguments on gay marriage at the Supreme Court ended Wednesday. The justices heard both sides in two separate cases: California's voter-approved Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage on a federal level as being only between a man and a woman.
It could be months before the court makes a ruling. CNN spoke with a few people who were inside the nation's highest court Wednesday or were monitoring the hearings closely from the outside. Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst: "I think DOMA is in trouble, and I think it's in trouble because Anthony Kennedy was repeatedly concerned that the Defense of Marriage Act violates states rights. Anthony Kennedy, who as we all know is the swing vote on this court, is someone who is concerned about gay rights, although he said very little, I think nothing, about the issue of whether the Defense of Marriage Act violated gay people's constitutional rights. He was clearly very concerned that the Defense of Marriage Act was invading the province of the states to define marriage. That's a state function, usually. And that would certainly be suggesting that he was going to strike down the law. Certainly the other liberals, the four Democratic appointees, looked like they were going to vote it down."
Edith "Edie" Windsor, plaintiff who challenged DOMA: "I am today an out lesbian, OK, who just sued the United States of America, which is kind of overwhelming for me. I think it's gonna be good."
Jonathan Turley, law professor, George Washington University: "You're seeing sort of a sticker shock with the justices, that they were worried about handing down a major ruling either recognizing same-sex marriage or the right of equality, or rejecting it."
Chad Hollowe, supporter of same-sex marriage: "It's pretty clear that some justices like (Antonin) Scalia are going to vote against it no matter what. Scalia was engaged in a long back and forth about how exactly did this become unconstitutional all of a sudden. Was this unconstitutional when the constitution was created - when the 14th amendment was passed? Was it unconstitutional 10 days ago - when did this happen? His line of questioning made it pretty clear he was dead set against it, which shouldn't be surprising, given Scalia's history."
Eric Delk, who attended court arguments Wednesday: "Well, I think that the conservative justices feel that Prop 8 is valid, but I think some of the more liberal justices know it needs to be altered. Because the people decided something different from what the courts decided and opinions have changed since the Prop 8 vote. And I think in California, if they had a vote now, they would probably allow same-sex marriage."
Mary Ann Piet, social worker: "I'm here today because I'm a social worker, and I've seen a lot of people suffer over the years. And I'm concerned about not getting people their human rights, their dignity as people. And this will give dignity and human rights to people. I have members of my family that are gay, and I see them suffer internally."
Also on this blog: A time line of gay rights in America
The first rounds of arguments are over. The nine justices on the Supreme Court today heard about an hour and 20 minutes of debate around Proposition 8 – the measure that banned same-sex marriage in California.
And on Wednesday, the issue of the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between one man and one woman will be up before the highest court.
So what do you think? Who has the right to say I do? And what do our laws say about who we are? Add your thoughts at CNN's iReport.
By Mariano Castillo, CNN
CNN) - Republican Sen. Rob Portman's flip-flop approval for same-sex marriage, is just the latest change of heart on the issue by conservatives.
Even Democrats like President Obama - have turned around after opposing it. This change in attitude is just one of many milestones for the movement.
Here are five of the most important turning points in the same-sex marriage debate:
1993: In a landmark case, Hawaii's Supreme Court ruled that the state can't deny same-sex couples the right to marry unless it finds "a compelling reason" to do so. It orders the issue back to the state legislature, which then voted to ban gay marriage. This was one of earliest debates on the issue at the state level, and was a precursor to the legal battles nationwide. Today, domestic partnerships and civil unions for same-sex couples are legal in Hawaii.FULL STORY
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
Washington (CNN) - In a bold political and legal move, the Obama administration formally expressed its support for same-sex marriage in California, setting up a high stakes political and constitutional showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court over a fast-evolving and contentious issue.
In a broadly worded legal brief on Thursday that senior government sources said had President Barack Obama's personal input and blessing, the Justice Department asserted gay and lesbian couples in the nation's most populous state have the same "equal protection" right to wed and that voters there were not empowered to ban it.
"Use of a voter initiative to promote democratic self-governance cannot save a law like Proposition 8 that would otherwise violate equal protection," said the brief. "Prejudice may not however be the basis for differential treatment under the law."
California's 2008 Proposition 8 referendum revoked the right of same-sex couples to wed after lawmakers and the state courts previously allowed it.FULL STORY
By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Alpharetta, Georgia (CNN) - Before we had "16 and Pregnant," push-up bras for tweens or mandatory sex education, girls like Donna Liska-Johnson learned about the birds and the bees from author Judy Blume.
Liska-Johnson was 11 years old when her aunt gave her a copy of Blume's breakthrough novel, "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret." She formed an instant bond with 12-year-old Margaret Simon who, like her, was embarking upon puberty at a time when people didn't talk openly about boys, bras and periods. She had finally found someone she could relate to.
"I would close my door and the world would fall away," she said. Blume's first-person narrative "always connected me with the character because she wrote so close to the heart."
Believe it or not, it's been nearly 43 years since "Are You There God?" jump-started Blume's prolific career, which changed the way a generation of readers learned about menstruation, masturbation and sex, among other growing pains. Though she's had her critics over the years, Blume, who turned 75 last week, can still draw a crowd in this latest chapter of her career, which includes a forthcoming novel and the first major motion picture adaptation of one of her novels - and it's not "Are You There God?"
"Tiger Eyes" may not be Blume's most popular book, but it's the one she and son Lawrence Blume (the inspiration for Fudge) had always wanted to bring to the big screen. Both said they felt a strong connection to lead character Davey Wexler, a teen whose mother uproots her from New Jersey to visit relatives in New Mexico after her father is killed in an armed robbery. Plus, it was the only novel they could film in 23 days on a budget that only allowed them to cast three professional actors from outside New Mexico, said Lawrence Blume, who directed the film and co-wrote the screenplay with his mother.FULL STORY
By Ben Brumfield, CNN
(CNN) - A nurse is suing a hospital, claiming it agreed to a man's request that no African-Americans care for his baby.
The lawsuit accuses managers at Hurley Medical Center in Flint of reassigning Tonya Battle, who has worked at the facility for 25 years, based on the color of her skin.
The man approached Battle, while she was caring for his child in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, asking to speak to her supervisor, according to the complaint filed in January by Battle's attorney.
She pointed the charge nurse in his direction.
The man, who is not named in the filing, allegedly showed her a tattoo that may have been "a swastika of some kind" and told her that he didn't want African-Americans involved in his baby's care.FULL STORY
By Moni Basu, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – In his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama embraced gay rights as part of America's agenda, saying that "our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law."
Last year, he became the first president to endorse same-sex marriage, and polls showed that he was not out of sync with America. They logged a steep rise in public support for gay and lesbian marriages.
Several states approved same-sex marriage ballot measures. Wisconsin voters elected Tammy Baldwin, as their first openly gay U.S. senator.
The progressive blog Truthout wrote that the trends mean that "conservatives will soon no longer be able to use homophobia as a 'wedge' issue in elections."
By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) - Vera has found a good man.
He loves her and her 16-year-old daughter. His work provides their income and allows her to attend nursing school. They married two years ago and their future was set. Except for one thing. Lucio came to the United States illegally and has been living as an undocumented immigrant. At any time he could be deported to his native Peru.
Although undocumented, Lucio was able to find work as a contracting muralist in Houston, where Vera - a U.S. citizen - was born and raised. He learned to speak English in less than three years for work and the need to communicate with the "love of his life" as he put it.
"I love this country and have made it my home. I want to be able to contribute to this country and give back in any way I can," said Lucio. He said he got his Tax ID number as soon as he started working because he wanted to get started on the right path and pay his taxes.
Vera also depends on Lucio for emotional support as she suffers from PTSD. She is a victim of sexual molestation and suffered mental and physical abuse while growing up.
They'd always planned for Lucio to apply for citizenship, but were afraid of going into the system that would require him to return to Peru for up to 10 years.
"I used to have nightmares about Lucio and I separating. I used to worry so much about it," said Vera, "I wouldn't know what to do without him. If he left I wouldn't know how to run his business."
Now Vera and Lucio, whose last names we've agreed to withhold to protect their identity, are entering that system, hopeful that they won't be separated.
Come March, many mixed-status families will breathe a sigh of relief knowing they won't have to remain separate for a long period of time while they apply to become legal residents in the U.S., according to a new rule made by the Department of Homeland Security announced last week.
By Ashley Fantz, CNN
(CNN) – For 15 years, Ashley Broadway has devoted her life to the military and to her spouse, an Army lieutenant colonel.
The former schoolteacher found a new job and made new friends each time she had to relocate bases, including a move to South Korea. When a deployment to the Middle East separated the couple, Broadway took care of the couple's young son, Carson, on her own.
Now at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and with a second child on the way, Broadway wanted to settle down and get to know more spouses like herself.
So she applied for membership to the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses.
"I thought, 'Here's a chance to make some close friends who would really understand me,' " Broadway said. "And I could get very active in events that help other families like mine. I was excited, really excited, to be a part of this group."
But the Bragg spouse club apparently didn't feel the same way. Broadway's married to Lt. Col. Heather Mack. The officers' spouse club didn't want her, she believes, because she's gay.FULL STORY
Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs
By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) – December 13, 1996.
My son, barely a few moments old, is crying. I walk toward the medical room bassinette where he is lying, smile, and then tell him not to worry... daddy's here. And then ever so gently I place his tiny hand inside mine and again tell him daddy's here... I will keep you safe.
He stops crying.
And thus began a parent and child relationship that is probably no different than the billions that came before that night and the billions in the 16 years after. Of all the natural instincts that enslave my body, the desire to love and protect my son is a master I have never rebelled against. And I am sure many of you can agree: Being a parent can be both a person's greatest joy and greatest sense of anxiety.
"I will keep you safe," is what we tell them.
And then something like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary happens, or the shooting at the mall in Oregon, or the movie theater in Aurora, and you are reminded of how increasingly difficult it is to do just that.
There have been 31 school shootings since Columbine in 1999, and sadly there is not a damn thing to suggest there won't be 31 more.
In my 20 years of journalism, I have had quite a few conversations with mourning mothers and fathers who have had to bury their children. Last year I interviewed a father who dropped his son off at football practice and never saw him alive again - taken by an undiagnosed heart ailment. I cried for hours afterward. I'm sure that father still cries on occasion today.
But something different grips your soul when you know the cause of a child's premature death was not brought on by ill health or an accident, but rather an outbreak of senseless violence that took place somewhere we once viewed as safe - like an elementary school. Or as we saw late this summer in Wisconsin, a place of worship.FULL STORY