When I began writing this, the SCOTUS decisions for Prop. 8 and DOMA were expected either Monday (6/17), Thursday (6/20), or next week. At this point, we can cross off Monday. Here’s hoping it’s today!
In anticipation of the decision, LGBT communities across the nation have events penciled in. These events will either be a celebration or protest, depending which way the rulings go. According to John Lewis, an organizer with Marriage Equality USA:
When something major happens in the LGBT civil rights movement what you do is go to Castro and Market to be there with the community win or lose
Here’s a map of some of the events. Wow, I am embarrassed at the poor showing in New England. Shout-out to Boston for carrying the whole region.
NYC gathering is at the Stonewall Inn (where else?) at 5:30 PM.
SF is at Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro District (where else?) at 6:30 PM
For the rest of the country, check your local listings. CA has a ton of them!
The high court could rule a few different ways. It could strike down Prop. 8 in California, it could decline to rule, which would uphold the 9th Circuit Court decision that struck down Prop. 8. Both of those scenarios would make same-sex marriage legal.
The court could also uphold Prop. 8, which would uphold the ban on same-sex marriage.
Edith’s partner of 45 years, Thea Spyer (whom she married in 2007 in Canada), fell ill and died. Edith (now 83) was left with a tax bill of $360,000. If their marriage counted, she would have been exempt from the death tax.
Edith can tell you the story better than I can and I can’t embed the video here, so I beg you to go to this link, scroll down a bit, and watch Edith tell it herself. Please go see the video—Edith is adorable.
Why DOMA is bad
Apart from the obvious, married same sex couples face a discrimination never faced before by any other married couples in US history. In 48 states, the age of consent for marriage is 18 without parental consent. In Nebraska, it’s 19 and in Mississippi, it’s 21. It is a fact that a couple of 18-year-olds can get married in NY and if they move to MS, they are still married and enjoy all the rights and benefits of their marriage. In other words, MS is REQUIRED BY LAW to recognize NY marriages. In 20 state, you can marry your first cousin. You’re still married if you move to one of the other 30 states. Before 1967, interracial marriage was not legal in all states and while an interracial couple would likely have faced hostile neighbors, they would have faced them as a married couple. DOMA manipulates the full faith and credit clause of Article IV of the Constitution.
Why DOMA was good
DOMA took the pressure off. Without having to worry about pissing off the other 49 states, MA was able to make same sex marriage legal. I doubt we would have had the rapid pace of adoption by the other 11 states if DOMA was not in place. The LGBT community has some pretty nasty things to say about Bill Clinton regarding DOMA, but I wonder if the man wasn’t playing a little 11-dimensional chess of his own.
Check out this map of same sex marriage laws by state with a time slider.
It’s the economics
Back in March 2013 when SCOTUS was hearing these arguments, I passed by a few articles and blog posts where people felt that marriage equality was not as important as some of the other issues we were facing (economy, jobs, jobs, economy). They wondered why we were wasting time on it when the important stuff wasn’t getting done. I was horrified, mostly because I thought these folks were friendlies, but also because it hit me how little people understood about the fight for marriage equality.
Marriage equality isn’t only about queens throwing the perfectly elegant wedding or dykes throwing whole wheat natural weddings, although there’s nothing wrong with a good celebration of love and committment.
Marriage equality is also about economics. A “family” is a recognized economic unit in our country. When a straight couple says I do, they get 1138 rights, on the spot. There are medical rights, property rights, and more. An LGBT couple making a similar commitment has to meet with a lawyer to file hundreds of contracts to get nearly the same. I say nearly because several hundred of the 1138 rights cannot be filled by contractual agreement.
With the economy being what it’s been, legally married couples have significantly more options for family-level financial decisions to weather the storm. I think that this is important.
What is not important is arguing and resisting—it’s the right thing to do on so many levels.