A few days ago the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in seven same-sex marriage cases: three cases from Virginia and one case each from Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. "Denied certiorari" means that the Supreme Court declined to hear the case; it doesn't mean that the court made any ruling about whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry or whether states can constitutionally restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples.
Last year the Supreme Court decided two SSM cases, one called Windsor (from New York) and one called Hollingsworth (from California). In Windsor, two women, residents of New York, were legally married in Canada. At the time New York law did not authorize same-sex marriages, but New York recognized same-sex marriages from states and provinces in which same-sex marriage was legal. One spouse died and left her estate to the other. The survivor filed an estate tax return and claimed that what she received from her wife's estate was exempt from federal estate tax because legacies to a spouse are untaxed. The IRS asserted that under the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbade the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, the two women were not married for tax purposes and the survivor was not entitled to claim the marital exemption. The Supreme Court held that a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional because it intruded on the states' traditional right to define and regulate marriage.
In the Hollingsworth case, proponents of SSM challenged a California ballot measure that prohibited SSM. A trial court struck down the measure. The measure's sponsors appealed that decision to a federal court of appeals, where they lost. They asked the Supreme Court to review the case, the Supreme Court reviewed it, and held that the measure's sponsors did not have standing (the legal right) to appeal the case because they were not affected by whether Proposition 8 (the ballot measure) was enforceable -- the measure prohibited something that the sponsors weren't going to do anyway.
Underlying the Court's opinions in Hollingsworth and Perry is a suggestion that the anti-SSM measures are constitutionally suspect because they reflect the authors' animus toward same-sex couples; that is, the courts should look at them critically because the sponsors acted out of bias and prejudice.
If I am right, then there is a delicious irony in what the efforts of SSM opponents have accomplished. Had they been content to let their states' marriage statutes stand unaltered in their references to marriage as being between one man and one woman, the federal courts could not have used prejudice as a reason to allow SSM. But by gilding the lily -- by wanting prohibitions on same-sex marriage to be not only in their states' statutes but in the state constitutions -- the opponents of same-sex marriage inadvertently handed the federal courts a perfect reason to strike down the century-old statutes along with the constitutional prohibitions of the modern era.
The moral for SSM opponents and their petition drives is this: Be careful what you ask for: sometimes you not only won't get what you want, but you'll lose what you already have.