Same-sex marriage: Liberty restored
The times they have a-changed. Witness two landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings issued Wednesday regarding same-sex marriage.
In one 5-4 ruling, the high court said a provision of 1996's federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) “is unconstitutional as deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment,” which guarantees equal protection of the laws.
“The avowed purpose and practical effect of (DOMA) are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States,” Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's swing vote, wrote for a majority joined by the court's liberals.
In a second 5-4 ruling, written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by an odd union of conservatives and liberals, the court held that the private party that stepped in to defend California's gay marriage ban lacked standing. Thus, gay marriage once again is legal in The Golden State.
We agree with the Supreme Court's rulings. For, and particular to the DOMA case, those married in the 12 states (and District of Columbia) that recognize same-sex marriage no longer can be discriminated against for a host of federal benefits, privileges and rights enjoyed by heterosexual marrieds.
The thorny question now becomes — based on the same issues of “unquestioned authority by the States” versus federal equal protection of the law — if those states not now recognizing same-sex marriage — allowable under another provision of DOMA left intact by the court — ultimately will have to do so. The answer to that question surely will be addressed in the plethora of lawsuits to follow.