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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Today We Celebrate

America, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, made a giant step today in fulfilling the vision of our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, that all people are equal under the law. The federal Defense of Marriage Act's section 3 is found "unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment." By striking down DOMA, same-sex couples who are legally married are entitled to equal treatment under federal law.

The Court also issued its ruling on Hollingsworth v. Perry, ruling that the originators of Proposition 8 did not have the constitutional authority, or standing, to defend the law in federal courts since the state refused to appeal its loss in circuit court. This returns the right of all citizens of California to marry the person of their choosing.

Now 13 states and the District of Columbia have equal marriage rights coupled with federal protections and benefits. We achieved this, not through armed uprising, but by vigorous, relentless voicing of this indignity and revealing to the world that ours is a just cause. We have every right to rejoice in our good fortune. We also need to remember that others will be devastated.  Even though some in the opposition lied, cheated and bullied their way through the contentious decades of this struggle, many hold to such opposition out of sincerely held beliefs. All we have to do is recall our own feelings when things didn't go our way to understand how others may feel. This demonstrates what we have been saying all along: we share a common humanity. Gloating is reserved for those who don’t appreciate this. I am happy to say I have not observed anything but glee.

With marriage bans still in place outside of California, the struggle is far from over. We will continue the struggle in states without marriage equality until it’s achieved, with a great advantage. The example of California and the twelve other states with marriage equality will be enormous. The contrast of those states where all marriages enjoy all the federal and state rights and benefits will be stark. Pressure will mount as one state, then another, grants marriage equality. It will be hard to maintain old prejudices and the rigid confines of traditional marriage over time. People will see there really is no good reason to object any longer. 

So, today, we proponents of equality under the law, celebrate. These are huge victories, forecasting the future of America when all 50 states will have equal marriage rights.  This is inevitable.  There is no turning back.  But it will not be automatic; it will be won the same way we won today: person by person, state by state, ballot by ballot and legislature by legislature.

I'm off to San Francisco to join with The Religious Leader's Press Conference sponsored by the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations. As I said, today we celebrate!


Juan Oyola said...

As a Hispanic member of the GL BT community, I rejoice in the Supreme Court's decision. This decision is about equality and nothing else. I feel that, in this case, I no longer have to feel like a marginalized member of society. However, the fight is far from over. We still have to deal with antiquated laws,and the antiquated thinking, that created them in the first place. My heart leaps with joy at this great achievement. Good riddance to DOMA.

Juan Oyola

Robert Cornwall said...

Good word Steve!! But long way to go.

Steve Kindle said...

Yes, indeed. See Friday's column!