On Wednesday June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States made history when it ruled in the case of United States vs. Windsor, which challenged the Defense of Marriage Act’s exclusion of same-sex married couples from receiving federal benefits. The Supreme Court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional.
SCOTUS’ ruling in Hollingsworth vs. Perry that the proponents of Prop. 8 had no legal standing to defend sent the case back down to the circuit courts on a jurisdiction technicality.
There are positives and negatives to these rulings. First, DOMA being deemed unconstitutional is absolutely spot on and is further reaching than the Prop 8 ruling. The majority of the justices ruled that same-sex couples that are legally married at the state level ought to have the same benefits awarded to them that heterosexual couples receive. This will affect tax filing, military benefits and visitation and other benefits that married couples get. The ruling doesn’t force states where same-sex marriage isn’t legal to allow it, but it does in essence, set a standard that legally making homosexual couples second-class citizens at the federal level is not permitted or constitutional.
On the other hand, the ruling in Hollingsworth vs. Perry -the Prop 8 case- which directly affects citizens of California was not as definitive as some would have hoped. SCOTUS merely kicked it back to the California federal District Court previous ruling, which stated PROP 8 unconstitutional.The official language from SCOTUS states:
We have never before upheld the standing of a private
party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute
when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do
so for the first time here.
Because petitioners have not satisfied their burden to
demonstrate standing to appeal the judgment of the District Court, the Ninth Circuit was without jurisdiction to
consider the appeal. The judgment of the Ninth Circuit is
vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to
dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
The justices made it clear that they in no way wanted to upend state’s rights. This is an important piece in the ruling because it leaves open the possibility of other states where there are laws banning same-sex marriage to stand. There are thirty-one states in the U.S. where same-sex marriage is banned by law.Opponents of PROP 8 have continuously used religious morality as the standard and justification to ban same-sex marriage and strictly define marriage as between one man and one woman. My question to these folks is: where were you in government class where the explanation of America’s separation of church and state was given? That’s right! We have a separation of church and state because back in jolly old England the king queen wanted to change religions, everybody had to change and could be imprisoned, punished or even killed for not going along with the new religious decree. America’s Founding Fathers wanted to protect their own interests and those of the new land for each individual here.
That means that regardless of the dominant religion in this country, there is no legal standing to which anyone can be made to believe in those religious teachings. Therefore, imposing Judeo-Christian morality on the rest of citizens is unconstitutional and, quite frankly, morally wrong. It is wrong, just like preventing blacks from marrying during slavery was morally wrong-along with slavery. It is wrong just like banning interracial marriages prior to the 70s was wrong and unconstitutional. There is no justification to oppress a group because a majority or minority differs in beliefs or preference.
The rulings by SCOTUS will help strengthen America by extending the wonderful institution of marriage to all couples who want to commit and stand as a family unit. It is better for children and families, not just homosexual adults. The children of same-sex couples in California can now have their families validated like their peers. When all children are validated they grow up more confident and feel loved. Together these families and future families can be whole.
I applaud the rulings because love knows no gender and commitment shouldn’t either.
Laura Savage, the author of this article, graduated in June as a journalism major from San Francisco State University. She is a regular contributor to EPA Today. She can be contacted by email regarding her online articles on this website at firstname.lastname@example.org