A Letter From The Editress:
I’ve been trying all day to find the right words to meaningfully express how I feel about today’s historic U.S. Supreme Court decisions on DOMA and Prop 8.
This morning, I was one of the hundreds (thousands?) of people standing outside the Supreme Court building anxiously awaiting the verdict. The energy was palpable; the anticipation even more overwhelming than the heat. When the first smartphones pinged with news of the decision, cheers erupted through the crowd, more joyous and exhilarated than anything I’ve ever heard before. Cheers of PEOPLE IN LOVE, their loved ones, their supporters and friends, all celebrating a validation that was far, far too long in the making.
I’ve broken out into tears of joy at least half a dozen times today and will probably continue to do so periodically throughout the evening.
Today was a great day in American history. Perhaps the greatest of my lifetime. May the good energy it created continue to inspire even more progress, as we fight to make marriage equality a reality for everyone, in every state, everywhere.
Because we are all created equal. And because love is the greatest thing to celebrate.
ps. I’m an excellent wedding guest.
WASHINGTON — A fractured Supreme Court effectively opened the door for same-sex marriages to resume throughout California on Wednesday, saying it did not have the authority to hear a case challenging that state’s ban on gay and lesbian weddings.
The court’s 5-4 decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, does not directly overturn the same-sex marriage ban California voters approved in 2008. Instead, Roberts, writing for an unusual coalition of justices, sent the question back to a federal district court in California, which had barred state officials from enforcing the law, known as Proposition 8. In so doing, the decision could set the stage for gays and lesbians to marry throughout the nation’s largest state, though its immediate effects were unclear.
Roberts was joined by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, as well as three of the court’s more liberal justices. They said backers of Proposition 8 did not have standing to challenge a lower court ruling that invalidated the law, effectively reinstating the lower court’s decision.
“Because we find that petitioners do not have standing, we have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the Ninth Circuit,” Roberts wrote.
The decision came in the second of two gay rights cases decided by the high court on Wednesday. In the first, justices invalidated a part of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples from states that already permit gay marriage.
The California Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriages four years ago, and quickly about 18,000 couples tied the knot. That led opponents of same-sex marriage to demand a voter referendum outlawing gay marriage, which passed narrowly in November 2008.
The original lawsuit against Proposition 8, filed by a gay couple and a lesbian couple, had prevailed at both lower federal courts. The district court said the law violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause because it was “premised on the belief that same-sex couples simply are not as good as opposite-sex couples.” The appeals court ruled more narrowly that voters could not take away a right previously granted to the state’s gays and lesbians.
Since then, after a string of successful state bans on gay marriage, a half dozen more states have legalized the practice: Maine, Maryland, Washington, Delaware, Rhode Island and Minnesota. Waiting in the wings are several others, from New Jersey to Hawaii.
Rather than remaining on the sidelines in the California debate, the Obama administration came out forcefully this year against the ban and helped to argue the case in court. It singled out California and several other states that allow civil unions or domestic partnerships, arguing they cannot deny the title of marriage.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and declared that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other married couples.
The decision is a landmark win for the gay rights movement. It voids a section of the law known as DOMA, which was adopted with bipartisan support in Congress in 1996 to deny all benefits and recognition to same-sex couples.
At that time, no state permitted gays and lesbians to marry. Now, 12 states and the District of Columbia authorize same-sex marriages.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the 5-4 majority, said DOMA was unconstitutional because it violated the right to liberty and to equal protection for gay couples.
“By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute” violates the Constitution, he said.
Dissenting were Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.
The ruling means that more than 100,000 gay and lesbian couples who are legally married will be able to take advantage of tax breaks, pension rights and other benefits that are available to other married couples.