“Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages.” – Coretta Scott King
This week the United States Supreme Court reviewed two cases concerning same-sex marriage. The first case dealt with proposition 8, a California ballot proposition and a state constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 state elections. The measure added a new provision, Section 7.5 of the Declaration of Rights, to the California Constitution, which provides that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The second case is regarding the defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) a federal law that restricts federal marriage benefits and required inter-state marriage recognition to only opposite-sex marriages in the United States.
Both proposition 8 and DOMA decisions will be incredibly close with the four liberal leaning justices supporting an expansion of right for gay Americans and the conservative bloc of the court led by Justice Antonin Scalia voting against such measures. Justice Anthony Kennedy may cast the definitive vote on the proposition 8 case; he seemed to be the most open Conservative Justice during the proceedings.
DOMA signed by President Bill Clinton seems to be headed for a nasty divorce at the Supreme Court. Many of the Justices seemed skeptical of its constitutionality with Justice Kennedy stating that he believes the children of same-sex couples “want their parents to have full recognition and legal status,” and was troubled by the fact that DOMA refuses to recognize even those same sex unions that are already recognized by states.
“Plaintiff Edie Windsor, 83, brought suit against the federal government after the Internal Revenue Service cited DOMA in denying her a refund for the $363,000 in federal estate taxes she paid following the 2009 death of Thea Spyer, her partner for over 40 years. Windsor and Spyer had married in Canada in 2007, but resided in New York. Because Windsor would have been eligible for an estate tax exemption had Spyer been a man, she argues that DOMA’s Section 3 violates her equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment (Ryan Reilly & Mike Sacks).”
Public opinion has also shifted on same-sex marriage. Nationally, 1 in 7 American adults said in a recent Pew Research Center survey that they had changed their minds about same-sex marriage. Nearly all had gone from opposing legal marriage for same-sex couples to supporting it. Having a friend or family member who is gay was the most common reason for having switched positions, the poll found (By Paul West and David Lauter).
“It’s also notable how quickly public opinion has changed on this subject. Back in 2004 — when it was used as a wedge issue in that year’s presidential election — just 30% of Americans favored gay marriage, while 62% opposed it, according to the NBC/WSJ poll. In 2009, those supporting it increased to 41%, and the percentage jumped to 49% in March 2012. And most recently, in Dec. 2012, a majority of respondents (51%) for the first time in the poll said they backed gay marriage. That’s an increase of 21 percentage points in just one year. What’s more, a March 2013 Washington Post/ABC poll found nearly six in 10 (58%) supporting gay marriage (NBC NEWS).”
I support marriage equality because I believe regardless of your race, religion, or sexual preferences you should be able to marry the person you love. Coming from a religious family I fully understand the arguments against, but our country is a democracy not a theocracy and every citizen is promised equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment. In Pace v. Alabama (1883) the Supreme Court ruled in favor of race based legal restrictions on marriage, that decision was not reversed until Loving v. Virginia (1967) which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. It is now time for the Supreme Court to provide legal protection to same-sex couples and their families and protect their rights to marry the person they love in the same manner it did for African-Americans in 1967.