As the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates gay marriage in two high-profile cases, one justice has voiced support of gay marriage - for a narrower group of people.
Justice Samuel Alito suggested legalizing gay marriage for “lipstick lesbians” as the nine justices debated a law denying federal benefits to same-sex couples, according to transcripts of secret court deliberations leaked to CNN.
The Supreme Court is hearing two cases this week on the issue of gay marriage as both supporters and opponents hold rallies and protests outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.
Alito, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2006 after being nominated by President George W. Bush, is among the court’s conservative justices and has a mixed record on gay rights.
Alito made his comment after fellow conservative Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that homosexuality is simply too "gross" for the court to sanction.
"I know that this is all supposed to be about equal rights and the constitution and all that," Scalia said, "But does anyone else think that homosexuality is just gross? I mean I dunno it just makes me feel weird, so we should probably ban it."
“I have to disagree with you there, to paint all gay people with such a broad stroke,” Alito responded. “I mean, for example there are some really attractive lesbians. I think they’re called lipstick lesbians. You always see them making out at college spring breaks.
“Legally it would be really tricky, but if we could legalize gay marriage for those women, only for hot chicks … I think a majority of Americans would really be in favor of that, even in the South. Even I would go to that wedding.”
Bellus Habeas Corpus
Alito’s comment inspired some lively discussion among the male members of the court.
Even Justice Clarence Thomas, known for never speaking during Supreme Court proceedings, murmured “Damn straight” in response to Alito’s comments.
“Did you ever see ‘The L Word’?” asked Chief Justice John Roberts, referring to a television show. “I don’t know how they get away with showing X-rated scenes like that on television, but it certainly changed my opinions.”
“You outta check out that movie ‘Bound’ with Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy. “Also, that movie ‘Wild Things.’ The movie is stupid, but there’s this great sex scene with the two actresses.”
“A lot of really beautiful actresses are lesbian or bisexual,” Alito said. “They’ve got Portia de Rossi, Anna Paquin, Amber Heard, Kristanna Loken, Clementine Ford. Probably a lot of hot lesbian actresses we don’t even know about.”
“I was reading today that that (NBC news anchor) Jenna Wolfe came out as gay and is engaged to another woman,” Roberts said. “She’s pretty hot.”
“I don’t know if (porn actress) Jenna Jameson is gay, but her girl-on-girl sex scenes are quite impressive,” Justice Stephen Breyer added. “I mean, if gay sex is anything like that, then I’m in favor of it.”
Scalia, however, was not convinced.
“I went to law school with a lot of lesbians, and most of them looked like Rosie O’Donnell to me,” he said. “I think the really hot lesbians are like, maybe 5 or 10 percent of all lesbians. Besides, why do they need to be married just to make out in public?”
Alito’s remark also did not find favor among the female justices.
“The law is supposed to be applied equally to everyone, regardless of how attractive they may be,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said.
“I think I saw the exact same legal suggestion on a frat boy's T-shirt in Cancun, Mexico,” Justice Elena Kagan added.
“Thank you Justice Kagan, or shall I say, Exhibit B,” Scalia said, prompting laughter from the other male justices.
In the United States, gay marriage is legal in Washington, D.C. and in nine of the 50 states. Some states recognize civil unions, which grant gay couples many of the same legal rights as married couples.
Opponents of gay marriage are against changing the definition of marriage, or they suggest leaving the issue for the states to decide.
However, recent surveys suggest a slight majority of Americans support gay marriage.