SCOTUS Review of Marriage Equality: In Between Hope and Fear Is Action

Yesterday we learned that the U. S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will review the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between only a man and a woman for the purposes of more than 1,000 federal laws and programs, and the California case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, in which an appellate court struck down Proposition 8’s ban on gay marriage. The court could focus on narrow issues which would leave much unresolved. It could also broadly rule in favor of marriage equality (hope) or against marriage equality (fear).

In between it might uphold the California appellate decision but still leave the matter up to individual states to decide. Likewise it might strike down DOMA, but the advantages of access to federal laws and programs might only accrue to those who are able to legally marry.

In between hope and fear is action. For New Jerseyans there is every reason to continue our state efforts to achieve what Steven Goldstein, Garden State Equality Chair, refers to as “our foremothers’ and forefathers’ vision of a nation built on liberty and justice for all.” The Washington Post points out, Gay marriage is legal, or will be soon, in nine states – Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington – and the District of Columbia.

Overriding Governor Christie’s veto of the Marriage Equality bill now takes on added importance. We can only guess what SCOTUS will rule, but much better is for New Jersey to affirm our support for this civil rights issue and position ourselves to access whatever rights the court might affirm. 

Comments (3)

  1. deciminyan

    One of the consequences of Marie Corfield’s razor-thin defeat is that the opportunity for one more override vote is gone. There are some decent Republicans in the legislature, and I’m sure if they were allowed to vote their conscience, an override will be successful. But the governor will keep them on a close leash in order to enhance his 2016 ambitions. We can hope that the governor has an epiphany and realizes that he is on the losing side of both history and popular opinion and that he allows his GOP colleagues to vote as they wish. Meanwhile, we need to keep the pressure on the legislators of both parties who voted against equality.

  2. Bill Orr (Post author)

    Among eight of the U. S. Supreme Court members there is likely a 4-4 split. In an article in North David Savage posits arguments as to why the ninth member and likely key decider in these two cases, Justice Anthony Kennedy, might overthrow DOMA and support marriage equality.

    Regarding DOMA

        “Kennedy is likely to agree with the challengers [of DOMA], and he explained why in 1996, the same year Congress passed DOMA. The court then faced a Colorado voter measure that repealed gay rights ordinances in several cities. Kennedy spoke for the court in striking it down. The measure was ‘born of animosity’ toward gays, he said, and the Constitution ‘prohibits laws singling out a certain class of citizens for disfavored legal status or general hardships.'”

    Regarding Marriage Equality

        “His Colorado opinion could justify overturning the California voter initiative because it stripped gays and lesbians of legal rights they had won in the state courts. This option, adopted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, would clear the way for gay marriage only in California.”

        “But in the Texas case, Kennedy described marriage as one of several ‘intimate and personal choices’ that are the right of individuals and not left up to the government. If so, he could write a sweeping opinion that makes ‘marriage equality’ a national right.”  


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