A Momentous Day for Gay Rights

In a surprise ruling, SCOTUS ruled that a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional for having no legitimate purpose.

"The case on the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, United States v. Windsor, No. 12-307, considered the part of the law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for purposes of federal benefits. The decision on the federal law was 5 to 4, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing the majority opinion, which the four liberal-leaning justices joined. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

This is a surprise ruling given the Court's conservative stance on the affirmative action and Voting Rights Act cases released in recent days.

In a not-so-surprise ruling, SCOTUS avoided the merits of the Prop 8 issue and decided the case on procedural standing grounds. But it does leave open the opportunity for states to decide whether gay marriage will be permitted within their boundaries.

"The rulings leave in place laws banning same-sex marriage around the nation ..., but in clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, the court effectively increased to 13 the number of states that allow such unions."

I love that social media is blowing this up in a positive way. My Facebook news feed is full of friends applauding the decision and discussing its ramifications, and I rarely see my friends discussing SCOTUS. Twitter's trending hastags are #DOMA, #SCOTUS, and #loveislove. #loveislove was started by Barack Obama's tweet: "Retweet if you believe everyone should be able to marry the person they love. #LoveIsLove"

This is a telling sign of where the American populace sits on the issue. The ramifications of leaving gay marriage up to the states will be interesting to follow. What will happen when a couple who is married legally in one state moves to another state where gay marriage is illegal? I suppose we'll have to wait for another day when SCOTUS takes it up again, and it makes it to the merits.

NYTimes -- Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage With Two Major Rulings


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