As you may know, Ted Olson and David Boies, erstwhile legal rivals, filed a federal suit against Proposition 8 (Perry v. Schwarzenegger) soon after the voters of California decided to choose bigotry and bias over fairness and equality. This case is different; for one thing, it's federal, which means it very well may end up being decided by the Supreme Court. But as Gabriel Arana points out in this long piece from The American Prospect, this case has implications far beyond marriage equality and Proposition 8 -- indeed, it's putting the entire concept of "gay" on trial.
Perry v. Schwarzenegger indeed asks the "ultimate question" of whether gays have a federal right to marry, but because the case is alleging that Prop. 8 violated the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, the federal court decision will have implications for gay Americans in nearly every arena of public life, from housing to parenting to military service. The court is set to consider questions as wide-ranging as what it means to be gay and whether it affects one's contribution to society. It's not just marriage rights on trial; it's homosexuality itself.
The stakes are high. If Perry v. Schwarzenegger reaches the Supreme Court and Boies and Olson are successful, gays and lesbians nationwide would not only have the right to marry, they stand to gain many of the legal rights they have sought for decades. Don't Ask, Don't Tell would be invalidated, as would employment discrimination against gays and lesbians. In the eyes of the law, gay people would be equal to straight people, and any legislation that discriminated against them could be challenged and easily struck down against this precedent. However, defeat could legitimize such discrimination against LGBT Americans, making it far more difficult to sue for parental or housing rights. The door to any federal litigation on marriage equality would be shut for decades.