So first off, DOMA was struck down. This should not be a surprise as it was found unconstitutional by every lower court that had the law challenged in front of it, but it’s the Supreme Court, which is a very tricky group to predict. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was a 5-4 decision, and once again, Scalia rose up like some Scooby-Doo villain to chide everyone for not listening to his particular brand of insanity. So nothing much unexpected here, and a real win for all the same-sex couples in the twelve states that have marriage equality.
Did I say twelve? Yes, I did. It could have been thirteen, but well, let’s dive into that, because it may still be, because you see…
Prop 8 was punted.
This is the interesting one. The way this decision comes about is probably right, and it would have created a huge legal problem if anyone could defend laws they agreed with but that the elected officials of a jurisdiction did not. That mess was avoided, which is a good thing in the extreme. However, by avoiding that mess, it becomes harder to figure out how the deicision falls because Prop 8 was challenged in a district court in California, found to be unconstitutional, and the state decided not to defend it. Which basically means the state didn’t appeal the ruling. This should mean that California has returned to having equal marriage. It should. But we won’t know for sure until the lower court’s ruling is validated in who knows what way. I’m guessing that there will be lawsuits from people stating that while it was found unconstitutional in that one district, it doesn’t mean it’s unconstitutional statewide, and therefore some clerks won’t issue licenses and we’ll have a slew of lawsuits.
What does it all mean? Two things:
- Our work isn’t done: we have 37 states left where marriage equality is not granted, and in most of those we have to deal with state constitutions that have been radicalized by bigots. This will be a tough battle. Montana, my home state, has this issue. I suspect it’s going to be a battle I’ll be fighting personally as well, regardless of if I can find a date or not.
- Edith Windsor is a true hero to our cause: she stood up and told the IRS they were wrong, that the law was wrong, and that she wouldn’t stand for it. And she won. Congratulations Edie, you’re the best!