WASHINGTON — A majority of the justices on Wednesday questioned the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, as the Supreme Court took up the volatile issue of same-sex marriage for a second day.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, widely considered the swing vote on the divided court, joined the four liberals in posing skeptical questions to a lawyer defending the law, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for the purposes of more than 1,000 federal laws and programs.
"The question is whether or not the federal government under a federalism system has the authority to regulate marriage," Justice Kennedy said during oral arguments, suggesting that the question should be left to the states. He disagreed with the contention that the federal law simply created a single definition for federal purposes, noting that same-sex couples are not treated the same as other married couples. "It's not really uniformity," he said.