One year ago today the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and ruled in favor of the plaintiff in Windsor, opening the door for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights on a scale that even the most optimistic dreamer could not imagine.
Yesterday, Indiana became the latest state to have its state law against marriage equality ruled unconstitutional, and literally ten minutes later a federal court in Denver ruled that Utah’s ban was also in violation of the Constitution. That ruling by an appellate court pretty much guarantees that the case will be heard by the Supreme Court. It’s anybody’s guess as to how the Court will rule on such a case, but at the rate things are going — twenty states now have full marriage equality, and in the states that don’t, their laws are being challenged in court — by the time the case gets to Washington, D.C., it could be all over but the last dying whimper of the sniveling bigots at the Family Research Council.
In a way, it was people like the Family Research Council and the hard-core Religious Reich that has made a lot of this progress possible. Had it not been for them making such a big stink over what other people do in the privacy of their own home and forced a lot of people to examine their own lives, marriage equality would most likely have evolved slowly and ploddingly as states dealt with their own matters and not given a second thought to it. But now many courageous people — straight as well as gay — stood up in the face of the tyranny of the shamers and defended the fundamental right as human beings to live their life with someone they love regardless of genitalia. And the louder and more spittle-flecked the suppressed oppressors became, the more ludicrous and laughable their arguments grew until finally enough people, regardless of political or religious persuasion, said “At long last, enough.”
I have said all along that the case for marriage equality comes down to one simple fact: banning same-sex marriage — or any discrimination against the LGBT community, be it job discrimination, housing, or insurance benefits — violates the fundamental right we have as citizens to equal protection under the law. Our rights cannot be taken away or curtailed simply for who we are or how we identify ourselves. One freedom cannot apply to one person and not someone else without a good reason, and being black, Muslim, or gay is not a good enough reason. We have already achieved — at least in the law — relief for the first two. It is beyond time for the third.
In the ruling in the Utah case, the court noted the anniversary of the Windsor ruling and the swift progress of marriage equality:
In less than a year, every federal district court to consider the issue has reached the same conclusion in thoughtful and thorough opinions – laws prohibiting the celebration and recognition of same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. It is clear that the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love. In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage – not a same-sex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.
One of the reasons the courts have reached the same conclusion is because when you get right down to it, it’s not that hard a decision to make. Marriage is a right, regardless of the participants, and so far no respondent to the suits has been able come up with an argument based in the law or Constitution that justifies the state or federal government enforcing the ban on marriage equality.
Who knows where we will be a year from now. By then even Florida will have joined the others. And ten years from now we will all look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.
Map via Shakesville.