Thursday, March 28, 2013
Marriage Equality and SCOTUS
This week has been a historical week for both gay rights and the US Supreme Court. Two major cases involving gay marriage have been heard before the Court. One was the case in California where Proposition 8 , which bans same sex marriage, is being challenged and the other case is DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same sex married couples from states which allow gay marriages.
The oral arguments are now over and the 9 justices must decide the cases. After hearing about some of the questions asked by most of the Justices it would be tempting to make a prediction, but that would be too dangerous. The Justices are almost evenly divided, with 4 Democratic nominated members and 4 Republican nominated members and a Republican Chief Justice, but it is still difficult to predict, except for 2 members. It is tradition for Justices to keep their personal feelings on issues to themselves, but Justice Scalia has many times broken that tradition with his strongly derogatory statements against gays and voting rights for minorities. He definitely will not support any type of gay or any other minority rights. Then there is Clarence Thomas, who has not asked a single question in his many years on the bench. He is the only Black member and is strongly conservative. He also has voted against affirmative action and other issues that would help Blacks and other minorities. He has an attitude of "I made it to the top, so to hell with you, if you haven't".
Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts will be the swing votes. Kennedy has a history of supporting gay rights, but no one knows what Roberts will do, especially after supporting Obamacare. The court seemed to attack DOMA in the oral arguments, which could give a hint of how they will vote. They should make their decision sometime in June. So we will have to wait until then.
In the polls public support for same sex marriages has shown a dramatic increase over the past decade. Even a majority of young Republicans support gay marriage, while the majority of the older members of the party are against it, as well as most other issues benefiting minorities. The Justices today have effectively shot down the arguments of the conservative and religious right opponents. I felt very good about one of the Justice's reply to a lawyer saying marriage is solely for the purpose of procreation. The Justice said that if a gay couple should be denied marriage, so then should couples where one or both are over the child bearing age or couples who are unable to have children. The lawyer didn't respond.This reminds me of a friend, or I should say former friend of mine who was always very conservative, but since Obama's election has gone way over the edge. She and her husband have always said they are in favor of gay rights, but have always supported anti gay politicians. Recently she asked why I was so against anyone who supported DOMA. I explained my views to her. In her reply she stated that both her and her husband believe that the purpose of marriage is to have and raise children. This from a couple who have no children, are not religious and have often professed their extreme dislike of children and also said because of their marriage they are more financially secure. Typical conservative Republican hypocrites!
If DOMA is found to be unconstitutional many deserving people will benefit, either from government benefits such as Social Security, immigration or other federal benefits or just a feeling of equality and security. I am especially interested in immigration rights for bi-national couples, that are denied under DOMA. There are many bi-national couples who are forced to live apart simply because of their sexual orientation. There are many people, like myself, who are forced to live in another country, because my country treats me as a second class citizen. The US government always emphasizes human rights in dealing with China and other developing nations, but it's about time the government starts looking at human rights back home. I can only hope that SCOTUS will make the rights decision for me and millions of other Americans.