I woke up this morning feeling immensely apprehensive about what the Supreme Court would do relative to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8, especially following the Court's decision to overturn portions of the Voting Rights Act yesterday.
Would the Court take the bold steps necessary to begin laying the foundation for marriage equality across our country? Would they allow same-sex couples married in states that have upheld marriage equality to receive the same benefits as heterosexual couples? Or would the Court decide to uphold the idea that some people are more deserving of equality than others, or that voters should decide who is worthy?
The Supreme Court decided 5-4 that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Basically, the Court explained that the states have long had the responsibility of regulating and defining marriage, and some states have opted to allow same-sex couples to marry to give them the protection and dignity associated with marriage. By denying recognition to same-sex couples who are legally married, federal law discriminates against them to express disapproval of state-sanctioned same-sex marriage. This decision means that same-sex couples who are legally married must now be treated the same under federal law as married opposite-sex couples.
The Court also struck down California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state, on a technicality, by saying that those Proposition 8 supporters who brought the case to the Supreme Court lacked the legal standing to do so. While this wasn't the sweeping ruling that some had hoped, a ruling that would have paved the way for marriage equality in those states without it, it does move us in a forward direction. Plus, same-sex couples can begin marrying in California within a month, so anything that allows for more love to be legally recognized is more than satisfactory!
From the moment I heard the Court's decision on DOMA, I've been just on the verge of emotional. Much as President Obama's public support of same-sex marriage and the growing number of states and foreign countries that have approved marriage equality recently, I never believed I'd see these giant steps taken in my lifetime.
To quote one of Virginia's Senators, Mark Warner:
Huge victories today, but more work to be done to ensure #MarriageEquality for all Americans.So once again, love wins. And I believe, ultimately, it will keep winning. Love is love is love, no matter who does it.