LGBT — June 26, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Equality wins: U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act


This is an historic day for equal rights — and a boost to everyone working toward marriage equality in Michigan.

As I write this, my heart is full. Today is a day that was far too long in coming, but it’s here now and it’s cause for celebration.

United States Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional and therefore the federal government must recognize same-gender marriages from states that have legalized marriage equality.

The ACLU of Michigan explained the decision in a release:

In striking down DOMA, the court held that government discrimination against lesbians and gay men now is assumed to be unconstitutional and that DOMA’s defenders could not offer any good reason for treating married same-sex couples differently from all other married couples. The lawsuit, filed by Edith “Edie” Windsor, argued that DOMA violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution because it requires the government to treat same-sex couples who are legally married as strangers.

The Supreme Court declined to rule on Proposition 8 in California, declaring that the citizens who tried to take the freedom to marry away from same-sex couples did not have standing to do so. This upholds a lower court’s ruling that same-sex marriages should resume in California.

Kary L. Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan, said in a statement:

We are elated that the Court overturned DOMA and effectively allowed the lower court’s decision on Prop 8 to stand as it relates to California. We believe that both Prop 8 and DOMA violate the Constitution by treating gay and lesbian couples as second-class citizens.

It’s a huge victory for equality, welcomed by the LGBT community and their heterosexual allies. There’s still work to be done, but this is a giant step toward full equality.

Emily Dievendorf, Managing Director of Equality Michigan, issued the following statement:

Today the highest court in the land sided with the voters by supporting the advancement of marriage equality. LGBT families will now have access to over 1,100 federal benefits previously denied same-gender married couples. While the citizens of California will now be able to enjoy these benefits, Michiganders must hold their weddings elsewhere to receive those same federal benefits. They are also denied access to the rights provided by Michigan’s government to other married couples, regardless of where they get married. Equality Michigan is proud to be working with our partners in Michigan and around the nation in leading the effort to get LGBT families in Michigan the equal rights a majority of Michigan voters believe they deserve.

Mark Schauer, Democratic candidate for Michigan Governor, had this to say:

The U.S. Constitution promises all citizens equal protection under the law, and today’s ruling reinforces this basic American principle. No one should face discrimination based on who they love. Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette must now take steps to recognize same-sex marriages from other states here in Michigan. As governor, I will work to make Michigan a more welcoming place to same-sex couples by protecting LGBT citizens under the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act, and pushing to change Michigan’s constitution.

Statements are flooding in, from Michigan Democrats all the way up to our country’s highest office. You can read President Obama’s statement in full, but here are some highlights:

This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better. …

The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

We know the road ahead will have its share of challenges as supporters of full equality fight to have same-sex marriages recognized in Michigan and other states. But today’s rulings propel us forward — giving everyone who supports equality the hope and motivation to continue standing up for what’s right: equality for all.

With today’s ruling, there’s a good chance we’ll hear a decision soon on the case of Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, a lesbian couple who filed a lawsuit to try to overturn restrictions on adoption by same-sex partners in Michigan. The judge had postponed ruling on this case until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on DOMA and Prop 8, so the time has come.

Yes, the time has come, for all LGBT people and their families. The time has come when their love and commitment is fully recognized. Which means it’s time for us to celebrate — and then to continue the good work that’s already been done by so many to get us this far.

Onward, with love.

[Image credit: Oscar Guzman Schlaboong | Wikimedia Commons]