Today, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) takes up an issue dear to the hearts of many, including my own. Today, SCOTUS hears the first day of oral arguments on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 — banning same-sex marriage in the state — followed by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
Today marks history in the making.
Among the many articles coming out about this topic today, I was particularly struck by a New York Times article titled “Now in Defense of Gay Marriage, Bill Clinton.” Clinton was the president who initially signed DOMA into law back in 1996. DOMA has been one of very few qualms I’ve had with Clinton over the course of his presidency. All-told, I think Clinton has been the best president we’ve had since I’ve been alive (much love to Obama, too!). For me, it was DOMA more than anything that bothered me about his legacy. It just didn’t feel like a move he personally would have made, politics aside.
Thus, reading that Clinton has “disavowed” DOMA and is now publicly calling for it to be overturned by SCOTUS — along with current President Obama’s belief in marriage equality — means so much for the marriage equality movement and the decision the Supreme Court will ultimately make.
However, nobody knows which way SCOTUS will sway on either issue before them this week. Some journalists are reporting that it might actually hurt the overall movement if Prop 8 is decided on, having far-reaching consequences to all states in the U.S. regarding marriage. The country as a whole may not be ready for such, these writers are saying. What kind of backlash would the red states that are historically anti-same-sex marriage going to bring should that happen?
Think of the fight that has continued over abortion rights since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. As David Cole writes in “Deciding Not to Decide Gay Marriage”:
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an unabashed defender of abortion rights, has criticized Roe for imprudently intervening in that debate, at a time when the idea of abortion rights was already gaining ground at the state level. The Roe decision galvanized the anti-abortion movement, with political impacts that still linger.”
Cole goes on to argue for the continued fight for marriage equality at the state level. I can understand his view. In individual states’ fights for marriage equality, we have truly come a very long way in a very short period of time. Like Cole, I, too, believe that same-sex marriage will be legal in all 50 states in the not-so-distant future with the momentum we have garnered from the nine states and the District of Columbia that already have same-sex marriage passed into law. I would hate to see any sort of backlash from the country as a whole that could deter that momentum.
This is obviously a topic that nearly everyone has a passionate opinion about. What about you, Reader? What do you think should happen in the fight for marriage equality at this point?