I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
That’s from the President. I’m not sure if anyone could say it better or more succinctly.
This is, in fact, a great day for America. It is a day that opens up hope to those of us for too long have had none. It is a day that means that we are on a course to make good a promise more than 200 years old that everyone — no matter their religion, the color of their skin, their sexuality — is equal under the law in the United States of America.
It means that for the first time, bi-national couples will not have to choose to give up their country for the person that they love. It means that for the first time, I can have the same 1,100 Federal benefits of marriage that straight couples have always had and taken for granted. It means that the Federal government — my Federal government — will recognize my partnership in the same way that it has always recognized straight couples in a marriage contract. And it means, for the very first time in my 49 years of life, that my government does not look upon this taxpayer as a second class citizen unworthy of the same benefits and privileges of that citizenship as my fellow straight citizens.
For someone who has always been fascinated by the workings of government, who read our founding documents and studied the writings of our founding fathers and who loved political debates in civics, I’ve often been gobsmacked by the infiltration of the radical right into the political process in recent decades and their righteous indignation when something does not go their way. The continual attempts by the radical right and the “Christian right” to undermine our system with the perverse rewriting of history in which the United States was built on some sketchy moralistic Christian platform is to pervert the very form of government that they claim to uphold.
The decisions in Perry (Prop 8) and Windsor (DOMA) come 10 years to the day after the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, perhaps the first significant Libertarian victory of the 21st century, and means that June 26th will be a day celebrated by lovers of equality for many years to come.
The curious thing about history is that good and bad, correct and incorrect, important and inane all come about from such curious places. DOMA and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” were, for gay and lesbian Americans, two of the most unjust and inhumane pieces of legislation created in our lifetime. And they were signed by President Clinton. The Lawrence case was decided by the G.W. Bush-era Rehnquist Court, while today’s two decisions in an Obama-era Roberts Court, showed the conservative Chief Justice writing the opinion in Perry and dissenting in Windsor.
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. 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. ” from the opinion in United States v. Windsor
Meanwhile, the Court’s longest-serving justice, that unrepentant lion of the right, 77-year-old Antonin Scalia, who dissented in Lawrence, joined Roberts in affirming the Perry had no standing while delivering a resounding (some may say deranged) 26-page dissent in Windsor.
What does all that mean? It means that in all ways and in all cases, justice served makes for strange bedfellows.
I’ll leave you with Dan Savage’s brilliant — and utterly and completely true — admonition that in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, you can always count on the freedom and the bravery coming last. And while I fervently believe that, I am also unfailingly glad that in America we do usually get there in the end.
Fight on. I have a wedding to plan.