Gay rights advocates celebrate
by Mark Sherman, Associated Press
June 27, 2013 12:20 AM | 2746 views | 22 22 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WASHINGTON — In a historic day for gay rights, the Supreme Court gave the nation’s legally married gay couples equal federal footing with all other married Americans on Wednesday and also cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California.

In deciding its first cases on the issue, the high court did not issue the sweeping declaration sought by gay rights advocates that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry anywhere in the country. But in two rulings, both by bare 5-4 majorities, the justices gave gay marriage supporters encouragement in confronting the nationwide patchwork of laws that outlaw such unions in almost three dozen states.

Gay-rights supporters cheered and hugged outside the court. Opponents said they mourned the rulings and vowed to keep up their fight.

In the first of the narrow rulings in its final session of the term, the court wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act, that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits that are otherwise available to married couples.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by the four liberal justices, said the purpose of the law was to impose a disadvantage and “a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the states.”

President Barack Obama praised the court’s ruling against the federal marriage act, labeling the law “discrimination enshrined in law.”

“It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people,” Obama said in a statement.

“The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he was disappointed in the outcome of the federal marriage case and hoped states continue to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Boehner, as speaker, had stepped in as the main defender of the law before the court after the Obama administration declined to defend it.

The other case, dealing with California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, was resolved by an unusual lineup of justices in a technical legal fashion that said nothing about gay marriage. But the effect was to leave in place a trial court’s declaration that California’s Proposition 8 ban was unconstitutional. Gov. Jerry Brown quickly ordered that marriage licenses be issued to gay couples as soon as a federal appeals court lifts its hold on the lower court ruling. That will take least 25 days, the appeals court said.

California, where gay marriage was briefly legal in 2008, would be the 13th state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow same-sex couples to marry and would raise the share of the U.S. population in gay marriage states to 30 percent. Six states have adopted same-sex marriage in the past year, amid a rapid evolution in public opinion that now shows majority support for the right to marry in most polls.

The 12 other states are Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The day’s rulings are clear for people who were married and live in states that allow same-sex marriage. They now are eligible for federal benefits.

The picture is more complicated for same-sex couples who traveled to another state to get married, or who have moved from a gay marriage state since being wed.

Their eligibility depends on the benefits they are seeking. For instance, immigration law focuses on where people were married, not where they live. But eligibility for Social Security survivor benefits basically depend on where a couple is living when a spouse dies.

This confusing array of regulations is reflected more broadly in the disparate treatment of gay couples between states. And the court’s decision did not touch on another part of the federal marriage law that says a state does not have to recognize a same-sex marriage performed elsewhere.

Indeed, the outcome of the cases had supporters of gay marriage already anticipating their next trip to the high court, which they reason will be needed to legalize same-sex unions in all 50 states.

The Human Rights Campaign’s president, Chad Griffin, said his goal is to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide within five years through a combination of ballot measures, court challenges and expansion of anti-discrimination laws.

The rulings came 10 years to the day after the court’s Lawrence v. Texas decision that struck down state bans on gay sex. In his dissent at the time, Justice Antonin Scalia predicted the ruling would lead to same-sex marriage.

On Wednesday, Scalia issued another pungent dissent in the Defense of Marriage Act case in which he made a new prediction that the ruling would be used to upend state restrictions on marriage. Kennedy’s majority opinion insisted the decision was limited to legally married same-sex couples.

Scalia read aloud in a packed courtroom that included the two couples who sued for the right to marry in California. On the bench, Justice Elena Kagan, who voted to strike down DOMA, watched Scalia impassively as he read.

“It takes real cheek for today’s majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here_when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority’s moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress’ hateful moral judgment against it. I promise you this: The only thing that will ‘confine’ the court’s holding is its sense of what it can get away with,” Scalia said.

Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito, who also wrote a dissenting opinion, said their view is that Constitution does not require states to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Outside the court, some in the crowd hugged and others jumped up and down just after 10 a.m. EDT when the DOMA decision was announced. Many people were on their cellphones monitoring Twitter, news sites and blogs for word of the decision. And there were cheers as runners came down the steps with the decision in hand and turned them over to reporters who quickly flipped through the decisions.

Chants of “Thank you” and “U-S-A” came from the crowd as plaintiffs in the cases descended the court’s marbled steps. Most of those in the crowd appeared to support gay marriage, although there was at least one man who held a sign promoting marriage as between a man and a woman.

In New York City’s Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, where a riot in 1969 sparked the gay rights movement, erupted in cheers and whooping.

Mary Jo Kennedy, 58 was there with her wife Jo-Ann Shain, 60, and their daughter Aliya Shain, 25.

She came with a sign that could be flipped either way and was holding up the side that says “SCOTUS made our family legal”.

They have been together 31 years and got married the day it became legal in New York.

Others were not celebrating.

“We mourn for America’s future, but we are not without hope,” said Tim Wildmon, president of American Family Association, in a statement.

Said. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council: “Time is not on the side of those seeking to create same-sex ‘marriage.’ As the American people are given time to experience the actual consequences of redefining marriage, the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify.”

The federal marriage law had been struck down by several federal courts, and the justices chose to take up the case of 84-year-old Edith Windsor of New York, who sued to challenge a $363,000 federal estate tax bill after her partner of 44 years died in 2009.

Windsor, who goes by Edie, married Thea Spyer in 2007 after doctors told them Spyer would not live much longer. Spyer had suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years. She left everything she had to Windsor.

Windsor arrived at a news conference in New York after the ruling to applause from her supporters and said she felt “joyous, just joyous.”

Windsor would have paid nothing in inheritance taxes if she had been married to a man. Now she is eligible for a refund.

In the case involving the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Justice Kennedy was joined by the court’s four liberal justices. In the California ruling, which was not along ideological lines, Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion was joined by Scalia and three of those liberal court members: Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Comments
(22)
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anonymous
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June 28, 2013
@Lib. Why don't equal rights to you apply to people that oppose gay marriage? Why do they not have the equal right to their beliefs? We live in a free society. You are free to believe as you believe. Why aren't the people that don't believe as you do entitled to the same democracy? In your world, equal rights means "equal if you agree with me." If the laws change, they change. So far they haven't. Please quit belittling people due to their beliefs. Notice I am not belitting you, I am asking you to give all people equal rights to their beliefs.
Not Anonymous
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June 27, 2013
I'll answer that one for you. You bet your bootie Jesus would deny fake marriage between two men or two women. Got it now?

Lib in Cobb
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June 28, 2013
@Not Anonymous: Do you always answer for others? I suppose it saves wear and tear on the vocal cords of those around you.

Now I know that you are one of the many hypocritical Christians in Cobb county. A true Christian accepts all people, since you hate the LGBT, what other groups do you hate? Answer if you dare.

Lib in Cobb
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June 27, 2013
@anonymous: I don't have a crystal ball, but I do know that many hard line red states are leaning in the direction of becoming more liberal. It is my feeling that one day as in other countries we will have marriage equality for all people. Laws regarding equality have been changing over the last 150 years, it is evolution.

Perhaps you have noticed, Don't Ask Don't Tell is history, women can vote, gay and lesbian couples now have equal marriage federal rights, no more separate hotels and rest rooms. Do you now understand the evolution of law and opinion? The polls on marriage equality are up significantly, just in the last four years, in favor of those who believe in marriage for all.

One day before you check out, I hope you learn the true meaning of equal rights for all people.

I will ask you one question. Would Jesus deny equal rights for all people? I dare you to answer that with a yes or a no.

BTW: GA is a red state.
anonymous
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June 27, 2013
I agree with Clarkdale. Polygamy, etc., where does it stop? When Lib is able to have children with the same sex, only then can I be convinced same sex relationships are natural and what we were created for. All the laws of the land cannot change the fact that procreation is between one man and one woman. Much as Lib hates that. Take heart, Clarkdale, this ruling means a lot of libs will be moving out of our state to California. Good rid. Oh, and the poll numbers I read say the majority of Americans still believe in marriage between one man and one woman. I guess my poll isn't the lib poll.
Lib in Cobb
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June 28, 2013
@anonymous: So you believe that the only reason to marry or have a loving relationship is procreation?

Lib in Cobb
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June 28, 2013
@Anonymous: I noticed you didn't bother to answer my question.

Would Jesus deny equal rights to all? I will presume your version of Christianity will assist you with an answer.
anonymous
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June 27, 2013
Can I borrow your crystal ball since it tells you what the law of the land will be in the future and that Georgia will be a red state soon? Among other predictions. My crystal ball tells me you are wrong.

Lin in Cobb
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June 27, 2013
At one time the marriage between two people of different races was not permitted. The conservatives believed horrible things are going to happen if inter-racial marriages occurred. Guess what? Nothing horrible happened on a grand scale, other than the all too usual, isolated, unacceptable incidents directed at those couples. The world kept turning on its axis and hetero couples continued to get married, have children and so on.

Now, the conservatives are in the same mind set, "marriage as we know it, is over". That's not true at all, you can still get married, you can still do everything you have done prior to yesterday's very righteous decision by The Supreme Court.

To all the conservatives,get over yourselves. One day marriage between two people who happened to be LGBT will be the law of the land, all the land and nothing horrible is going to happen. The approval ratings among those polled involving marriage equality is at 55% currently. Just a few years ago that percentage was 44% No one is going to require you to enter into a same sex marriage. You will still be able to marry a member of the opposite sex, have kids, go to church, get divorced and so on.

If you don't like the very legal and very correct decision based on our Constitution, you can always leave.
D.G. in Clarkdale
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June 27, 2013
Democracy has sometimes been described as two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

Just because you may have increased support in polls doesn't make your point of view or lack of morals any more valid, it just means you have more wolves..... The great Republic of Rome once stood at the top of the known world, until the depraved and corrupt took control and they lost it all, history repeats itself ....

Lib in Cobb
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June 27, 2013
@DG: Now I have a lack of morals, I am so happy to know where I stand. Polls are a sampling of public opinion and the public votes.

There will always be people like you who believe that not all people are equal and that is an example of pure ignorance.
D.G. in Clarkdale
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June 28, 2013
@Lib in Cobb,

Like I've already posted its all a sham to give false legitimacy to deviancy using the smokescreen of equality.
D.G. in Clarkdale
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June 27, 2013
One more step toward the abyss. Its sad those who celebrate such depravity and claim to be enlightened truly walk in darkness. I pray that God shows mercy to this nation and allows it to correct this deadly moral decline before his wrath falls upon us all....
Lib in Cobb
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June 27, 2013
@D.G.: "depravity" Is that what you consider marriage between two people who love each other.

Then you and your spouse must be depraved?
D.G. in Clarkdale
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June 27, 2013
The unnatural can't be made natural just because you or others wish it to be so. Love as you obviously understand it is depraved, the obvious progression in your mixed up world would eventually allow pedophilia, bestiality and all manner of vile relationships in the name of love... I truly pity you.
Too funny
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June 27, 2013
D.G., Whether you or Bryan Fischer are making these absurd arguments is irrelvant to the fact that they bear zero resemblence to rational thought. I don't pity you insomuch as I find your thinking lazy and contemptuous.
Lib in Cobb
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June 28, 2013
I always enjoy having you or someone like you put words in my mouth. When I speak of loving relationships, I am discussing a loving relationship between two consenting adults. Not at any time have I suggested that pedophilia or bestiality be considered in the equal rights for all movement.

If I wanted someone to put words in my mouth, it would not be you.

D.G. in Clarkdale
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June 28, 2013
@Too Funny and Lib in Cobb

"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" Romans 1:22
Too funny
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July 02, 2013
@D.G. in Clarkdale

"And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." Matthew 5:22
anonymous
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June 27, 2013
I hope all the posters out here will give all due respect to each other. Someone once told me when explaining the voting process that the most important vote you cast is at the local level. Most people think it is at the presidential level. It is not. Your votes are not that important by party if you have certain beliefs and you want your elected officials to mirror your beliefs. If you don't already, for the next election, bone up on what the "most lowly from the bottom up" that you are voting for believe in. Only then will your vote matter to what you stand for. After that, accept what the majority rules and respect it. However, it is so important and I cannot reiterate how important it is for you to study what the elected officials at your local level on up believe in and vote for that. Only then will your voice really be heard.
ATL Conservative
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June 26, 2013
I wonder if the "New and Improved (third version) of BOB BARR" will be support same sex marriage now that DOMA was struck down by Supreme Court.

Remember; this is a law, which Barr, sponsored before he joined the Libertarians - then disavowed (I believe suring the same time he said drugs should be legal to use).

Kind of makes your head spin.
Lib in Cobb
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June 26, 2013
Yes, one more step forward in equality for all.
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