The Supreme Court's decision on gay-marriage finally came out yesterday. The biggest decision was the justices decision about gay marriage. It essentially boils down to this: In states that allow gay marriage, gay couples qualify for federal benefits. So if a gay couple lives in a state that already defines marriage as between a man and a woman, they will not qualify for federal benefits. Essentially, states rights wins. Well, for now.
The more complicated issue will be for those already married gay couples that move into a non-gay marriage state. What will happen with their pre-existing benefits? I have no idea, but I'm sure the issue isn't going away. This is only the beginning.
As far as the ruling on California's Prop 8, which barred same-sex marriage, the Court essentially didn't rule on the case itself, but simply said the parties involved in the defense didn't have the standing to defend it, thus dismissing the case. Like I said, a non-decision. The Prop 8 case got to the Supreme Court after a higher court overturned the voter approved referendum. The Supreme Court said the people defending Prop 8 before the Court didn't have the legal standing to do so, therefore dismissing the case completely, and letting the initial overturn stand.
As far as conservatives saying the Court missed an opportunity to define marriage, that isn't what they were asked to do. Sure, they let gay couples get federal benefits in states that recognize their union, but not in states that do not. The one issue that will become a problem for the states though is the growing intrusiveness of the federal government. The founding fathers framed the federal government to protect the union between state governments. States are now becoming less powerful and more behoved to federal dictatorship.
States that do not allow gay marriage will now become the new battlegrounds for the issue.