California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8, which has been in effect since 2008, was challenged in front of the Supreme Court today. This begins the arguments for the first of two cases being presented this session on same-sex marriage. Two couples in the landmark Hollingsworth v. Perry case gave their testimony in front of the Justices, saying that the ban “excludes gay and lesbian couples from an institution with a deep and distinctive meaning and thus violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection”. Lawyers for the plaintiffs encouraged the nine Justices to strike down Proposition 8 and to overturn any other state’s previous law or provision banning gay marriage, to allow same-sex marriage nationwide.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy spoke about the estimated 40,000 children of same-sex couples that reside in California. “They want their parents to have full recognition,” he said.

But supporters of Proposition 8 believe that instead of overriding the ban, a universal clause on the definition of marriage should be imposed in the 40 states that ban same-sex marriages.

The Hollingsworth v. Perry case has been four years in the making, and the idea of challenging Proposition 8 ignited after the 2004 provision by former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, which allowed same-sex marriages, was overturned and voided by the same Court hearing arguments today.

Nevertheless, the arguments before the Supreme Court today and tomorrow are making history for the LGBT community. If the ban is overturned, the measure could strike down any other state ban and would allow same-sex marriage to be recognized across all states. However, if the Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8, it will open the opportunity for each state to decide on same-sex marriage laws for itself.

Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.