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Supreme Court Rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 Put Us on the Right Path

Supreme Court Decides Whether Of Not To Review Challenge Of California's Prop 8On a great day for those of us who support equal rights pertaining to the LGBT community, the Supreme Court made the correct decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA. They determined that the petitioners who continued to defend Prop 8 after the state refused to appeal the lower courts’ decisions didn’t have the standing to challenge the decision. While this didn’t give us the ruling on the merits of the case that could have legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, it did what was intended by the lawsuit and ended the discrimination of Prop 8 in California.

While the Prop 8 ruling was great, the DOMA ruling is the decision that may be the first large push against the dominoes that are falling in line to the path of equality in the United States. The Supreme Court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional because it violated the Fifth Amendment. In the majority opinion, the Supreme Court wrote, “By seeking to injure the very class New York seeks to protect, DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government.” What they are basically saying is that the federal government cannot deny a group of people the protection of marriage that the state has determined they deserve.

Why is this important? Other than the fact that it strikes down a law that I believe is in the same class as the Jim Crow laws, it opens the door to recognition of gay marriage throughout the United States. The federal government will be forced to provide the same protections to legally married homosexual couples as they do to their heterosexual counterparts. This is great for all of the couples affected, but I see it as a smaller step preceding the major leap.

SameSexWikiMapI believe the next step will continue in one of two ways. There could be a challenge to one of the gay marriage laws or state constitutional amendments that is decided by the court on its merits. This could legalize gay marriage throughout the country. Another path would be for states to be forced to recognize same-sex marriages across state lines just as they do for heterosexual marriages. If the government has the responsibility to afford the same rights and protections to same-sex couples, then this concept should also apply to the recognition of their marriage in another state. If a case is brought against a state that does not recognize a gay couple legally married in another state, the court may find that the state has the obligation to recognize that marriage just as it would recognize the marriage of a heterosexual couple. The DOMA decision didn’t make this ruling, but it can easily be used as a basis for this type of lawsuit. If this does happen, all states would be forced to recognized gay marriage. States would still have the sovereignty to make a decision about the performance of gay marriages in their own state, but they would be forced to apply the laws that recognize marriages across state lines equally.

Whatever path the journey to equality takes in our country, we have reason to celebrate our progress today. We are on the right road. All signs are pointing to a nation that will eventually, as Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently pronounced, “live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”


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