Saturday, December 8, 2012

What the SCOTUS announcement means for marriage equality

Last month I wrote:

In all likelihood, the case SCOTUS will take up will either be the Prop 8 case, or that of Edie Windsor, the 83-yr old lesbian widow whose wife died in 2009. If it were my choice, it would be the latter. And, indeed, the Department of Justice has asked the supreme court to prioritise the Edie Winsor case... I think this will happen very, very soon--perhaps early next year.
Today I am delighted because the Supreme Court has decided to hear both cases. They will hear oral argument early next year (most likely March) with a decision probably in late June.

In the Proposition 8 case (more properly known as Hollingsworth v Perry), some commentatators think that the Court has five options regarding its ruling, ranging from a decision that affects only two counties of California (which, of course, would eventually affect the entire state) to eight states (those that currently have 'everything but marriage' domestic partnership for same-sex couples). It's a complicated legal situation. For a nicely laid-out argument, see the SCOTUS blog.

The New York Times has a simpler, clearer overview of the Court's choices here. If I had to guess, I'd say that the court will strike down Section Three of DOMA and that from next June, those of us who live in states where marriage is legal will have full access to the rights and privileges of marriage. In other words, same-sex couples would have access to the tax, immigration, and social security rules governing other married couples.

If that happens, then at some point some lesbian or gay couple in a state like Mississippi will sue to get married, their case (which will be a challenge to other sections of DOMA) will creep towards the Supreme Court, and eventually we'll get a Loving v. Virginia-like ruling that will make it illegal in this country to forbid same-sex marriage in any state.

Many people believe I'm a crackpot, hopelessly optimistic. But that's how I read the evidence. As I've said before, though, I'm not remotely qualified to pose as an expert, so go read about it and make up your own minds.

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4 comments:

  1. I think that's what is going to happen, too.

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  2. I think you're right; the pessimist in me just wonders how long the creep towards justice will take.

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  3. The trend is encouraging. The sooner the better.

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