Scenarios, terminology key in prepping for same-sex court ruling

Story highlights

No hints how justices might rule in two big cases this month

Familiarity with terminology can help gauge expectations -- thinking big or small

The justices are working separately in their chambers, trying to forge opinions

Lawyers and blogs wage war of words

Washington CNN  — 

There are no hints and trying to predict an outcome is a slippery slope. But for those anxiously awaiting a Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage – arguably its biggest issue this term – knowing potential scenarios is key.

Familiarity with legal terminology, like “DIG” or “standing” also can help prepare both sides to gauge expectations – thinking really big or really small – when rulings on two cases are issued this month.

This is especially true in the petition from California over a voter-approved ban on gays and lesbians marrying.

“The court has several ways to decide this case – from a very broad, sweeping conclusion with respect to the rights of our citizens in this country, to a narrower ruling that would be limited basically to California,” attorney Theodore Olson told CNN.

He argued on behalf of homosexual couples before the high court in March.

The justices are working separately in their chambers, trying to forge opinions on same-sex marriage and more than two dozen other cases.

Ten states now allow gays and lesbians to legally wed: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia. Delaware and Minnesota’s recently passed laws take effect this summer.

A summary of major upcoming Supreme Court decisions

‘DIG’ or ‘standing’

It is estimated about 120,000 legally married homosexual couples live in the United States.

There is division within the ranks of both sides about whether the high court will or even should issue a sea-change ruling on the constitutional “equal protection” question.

Some activists and politicians – even some justices – think the elected branches may be in a better position to drive the same-sex marriage issue, not the courts.

“For those hoping the Supreme Court will say there is a broad right for same-sex couples to be married, they’re likely to be disappointed,” said Thomas Goldstein, publisher and a Washington lawyer.

“In the end, probably the wording of the decision will give more momentum to those states that are recognizing those rights but it won’t force them to do so.”