On June 26 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. This legislation was promoted and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and denies any of the over 1100 federal benefits to same-sex couples.
The Court’s 5-4 majority decision was clear and simple. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy described DOMA as imposing “a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States.” This, he said, violates the right to liberty and equal protection under the law.
The decision means that in the 12 states and the
where same-sex marriage is legal,
those couples will qualify for all federal benefits currently available to
heterosexual couples. Other states, however, may still define “marriage” as
they choose. District of Columbia
The Supreme Court also tossed out
’s Proposition 8 on technical
grounds, which let stand the opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals in regard to
a legal suit against the referendum measure. If Prop. 8 had been allowed to
become state law, it would have revoked the right of same-sex couples to have
their marriages recognized in California . The governor immediately said that
his administration would begin processing marriage applications as soon as the
Ninth Circuit confirms that the stay has been lifted. California
Nadine Smith of Equality Florida spoke for many when she posted a video saying, “We are left out and left behind.” But these two decisions are still victories that should be celebrated.
For those of us who never would have chosen gay marriage as a defining issue of our movement, the fact is that huge members of our brothers and sisters did choose it. There was a mass movement in our community and they were energized around an act of civil disobedience.
I was living in a small coastal town in
when the mayor of Oregon in 2004 directed city offices to
issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of state law. My first
thought was, “That’s nice.” But I soon saw that something else was happening as
I watched the huge numbers of people line up and wait for hours to fill out
their paperwork. And then couples in my small town and elsewhere in San Francisco would call me and say, “We are
going to Oregon and wait in line as long as it takes.” San Francisco
It had become a mass movement of people standing up for equality and against discrimination. Surely, ending employment discrimination was more important. But Marriage Equality was moving people, a lot of people. In the beginning there were no major LGBT organizations, NGOs, or self-serving politicians creating this movement.
After the decisions were announced, it was encouraging to watch the interviews with the plaintiffs, lawyers, and demonstrators who all spoke about the people in the 38 states that are left out of these decisions. There was also talk about the “momentum” that these decisions have created for other issues—first and foremost, the pressure to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA).
For at least two people, the Supreme Court decisions had an immediate effect. Within 30 minutes of the DOMA ruling, a
immigration judge stopped
deportation proceedings for a Columbian man married to a gay New York City citizen. U.S.
> The article above was written by Ann Montague of Socialist Action newspaper.