DOMA Dies on Decision Day

Marriage Ventured Marriage Gained as Prop 8 Dies too

By Melanie Nathan, June 26, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 9.57.35 AM
Melanie Nathan and Friends from OUR Family Coalition on way into City Hall to hear the ruling
Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 9.57.01 AM
Mayor Ed Lee with marriage equality leader former Mayor Gavin Newsom and City Attorneys Dennis herrera and Terry Stewart

The Supreme Court released its historic landmark decisions on the two same-sex marriage equality cases in what has been an exhausting quest for marriage equality in the United States of America. In both cases gay and lesbian America came out the winner.

The Defense of Marriage Case, United States v. Windsor questioned whether the law deprives lawfully married same-sex couples of equal protections guaranteed by the fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court held that indeed same-sex couples must be equally protected.

The Prop 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, asks whether the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment prohibits the state of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman as it does under the state’s Prop 8 law. The Justices chose not to rule on prop 8 because they found that the Defendants had no standing to bring the case this far on appeal. Which means that because the Governor and Attorney General of California did not defend Prop 8, that the original Judge Vaughn Walker ruling must stand, which means, in effect, Prop 8 died too. So in 25 days, after more procedures are followed, including the lifting of the stay on marriages in California, Californians will once again be able to marry.

Kris Perry one of the Prop 8 Plaintiffs had noted before the ruling:

“No matter what the court does, we won,” Perry said. “Our case was helped by an amazing team but also helped show marriage equality is not a gay issue but an American issue…I’m enormously proud to be part of helping next generation of Americans grow up in an equal and fair society.”

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 9.56.25 AMDOMA -The DOMA challenge was brought by Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old woman from New York who married Thea Clara Spyer in 2007. After Spyer’s death in 2009, Windsor was denied an exemption of federal estate taxes.  In essence, she was asking the Supreme Court of the United States to agree to the overturning of the 1996 law signed by President Bill Clinton that defined marriage as heterosexual and prevented gay couples from receiving federal marriage benefits.

She has now been restored to a position equal to that of her heterosexual counterparts, because the law no longer defines marriage as between a an and woman only. DOMA has died.

The Federal Government, cannot deny same-sex couples any benefits and rights pertaining to marriage, as long as such couple is married in a State that allows same-sex marriage.   It still leaves 37 States that do not allow marriage, but is certain to begin the collapse of such antiquated laws as the LGBT community has vowed to fight until the last State is won.

We will post the decision and technical points during the course of the day. In the meantime GAY America is celebrating.

Binational same-sex couples can now apply for fiance VISAS and Green Cards for partners as immigration law can no longer discriminate against them. Even if a couple lives in a State that does not allow marriage, that couple can marry where it is allowed, and return to their home state and still apply for a green card.

JUBILATION AT SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL

Today I stood with crying with joy at the San Francisco City Hall Rotunda where former Mayor Gavin Newsom started marriage equality for California, as a crowd of hundreds of LGBT activists and supporters screamed while the SCOTUS announcement for marriage equality, was made.

Soon after City officials, local politicians and members of our community joined Mayor Ed Lee, Gavin Newsom, Kate Kendell, City Supervisors, City attorneys and many staffers for a press conference on the steps of the Rotunda in an historic victory cry.

Here is what went down from my Facebook posts:-

Kate Kendell from NCLR spoke about the rulings as being a great victory for gay LGBT Americans and noted that the fight will continue: “We will not rest until the whole country has marriage equality.”

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 9.57.49 AMMayor Gavin Newsom to the screams and cheers of the crowd: “San Francisco is a city of doers. Here we do not merely tolerate diversity, but we celebrate our diversity.”

California Attorney general Kamala Harris: “Today marks a great victory for freedom, equality, justice – and love. #MarriageEquality #Prop8.”

Melanie Nathan: “I am so overwhelmed I can barely post. DOMA dies today we start to see green cards for gays. Same sex couples are free to love foreigners too. Binationals green card time. Free at last. EXILES COME HOME”

Governor Jerry Brown has instructed the Counties in California to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issues a lift on the stay against marriage.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY USA CELEBRATES HUGE STRIDES FORWARD

AT THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES!
*DOMA struck down
*Prop 8 dismissed on standing

Marriage Equality USA announces celebrations nationwide, marking the Supreme Court’s landmark decision ending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act’s exclusion of lesbian and gay couples from the over 1,000 federal protections and rights that come with marriage. And, couples in California begin to make wedding plans following today’s high court’s dismissal of the Proposition 8 proponents’ appeal on jurisdictional standing grounds, leaving in place the 136-page district court opinion finding Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

While not a complete victory, in that the Court did not declare that all same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage, today’s Supreme Court DOMA ruling requiring the Federal government to recognize our marriages and the Prop 8 decision restoring marriage equality to California are significant steps.

Statement: Congresswoman Jackie Speier on US Supreme Court’s Ruling on Prop 8

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) released the following statement today on the US Supreme Court’s refusal to rule on the merits of Prop 8, leaving in place the District Court / 9th Circuit Court decision striking down discrimination against LGBT people.

“This is a momentous step forward for civil rights. While the Court fell short of extending marriage equality to all Americans, its decision today ends the division of Californians into two legal classes. It ends the government’s role in deciding whose marriages, whose love, and whose families deserve full status in our state. It brings our country closer to the day when no Americans are devalued or discriminated against simply because of who they are.

“I had the privilege to marry 50 couples during the brief window in 2008 when gay marriage was legal and I am looking forward to doing that again once California officials clear the way for LGBT marriages to resume.

“LGBT Californians have endured years of public debate over their civil rights and their personal relationships. That debate is now over and all Californians are equal under the law.”

AFER:

Phyllis Lyon Living Legend amongst LGBT activists given a hand by Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom
Phyllis Lyon Living Legend amongst LGBT activists given a hand by Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom

Washington, DC – Today, in a historic victory for marriage equality, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry that restores marriage equality to California.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the landmark federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.  It is the first case involving the right of gay and lesbian Americans to marry ever to be fully briefed and argued before the Supreme Court.

In today’s decision, the Court dismissed the Perry case for lack of jurisdiction because the Proponents of Proposition 8 do not possess legal standing to appeal the lower court rulings that invalidated Proposition 8.  The decision makes permanent the landmark United States District Court ruling that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

As a result of today’s decision, gay and lesbian couples will be able to marry in California once the District Court’s judgment takes effect.  In August 2010, the District Court held:

“Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 11.10.30 AM“Today is a great day for American children and families,” said Plaintiff Kris Perry.  “Sandy and I want to say how happy we are, not only to be able to return to California and finally get married, but to be able to say to children in California that no matter where you live, no matter who your parents are, no matter what family you are in: you are equal, you are as good as your friends’ parents and as your friends.  We believed from the very beginning that the importance of this case was to send a message to the children of this country that you are just as good as everybody else no matter who you love, no matter who you’re parents love.”

“Today is not just about us, it is about kids in the South, it is about kids in Texas, it is about kids everywhere.  And we really need to take this fight all the way and win equality for everyone in this entire country,” said Plaintiff Sandy Stier.

“This is a historic victory for California, for equality, and, most of all, for loving gay and lesbian couples and their families.  Because of this decision, today we are more American,” said Adam Umhoefer, executive director of AFER.

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 11.10.48 AM“As historic as today’s Supreme Court decision is, 37 states still treat gay and lesbian Americans and their children as unequal, second-class citizens.  That means that countless children still do not have the security and protection that marriage would provide their parents.  The Court needs to recognize that the Constitution guarantees these families and loving, committed couples full equality under the law.  Our work is not complete until marriage equality is a reality for all Americans,” added Umhoefer.

“The Perry case changed the conversation.  It altered the game,” said Plaintiff Jeff Zarrillo.  “It created a groundswell of momentum and passion that brought us here to the Supreme Court today.  Today, the Court said that I am more equal, that we are more equal, our love is just like our parents and grandparents and that any children we may have in the future will be more secure.  I look forward to growing old with the man I love.  Today is a great day to be an American.”

“Today, we are closer to marriage equality for all,” said Plaintiff Paul Katami.  “We are lucky, but we know that this fight continues across the country.  We cannot forget our LGBT brothers and sisters that are in states that still discriminate against them, and we will not allow it.  We will continue the fight until all of us our equal.  We stand on the shoulders of so many people that came before us.  People that risked their lives to stand up and be who they are.  They gave us the legs to stand up on today.  They gave us the momentum to run with and the voice to speak loudly and say proudly: we are gay, we are American, and we will not be treated like second-class citizens.”

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 11.11.04 AMEnacted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the fundamental freedom of gay and lesbian Californians to marry.  With today’s decision, California joins 12 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing the fundamental right of gay and lesbian couples to marry.  As the nation’s most populous state, with more than 37 million residents, California substantially increases the number of Americans—approximately 94 million people, or 30 percent of the United States population—who live in a state with marriage equality.

“This is a momentous victory for America’s constitutional commitment to equal rights for all.  Today’s decision by the Supreme Court permits the plaintiffs we represent—and tens of thousands of gay and lesbian Californians—to exercise the freedom to marry the person they love,” said Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.  “With Proposition 8 finally gone, our nation moves one giant step closer toward the day when every American—in every state—will be able to equally enjoy the fundamental freedom to marry.  This is a proud day for all Americans.”

“After years of unjust and unlawful discrimination, gay and lesbian Californians will no longer be treated as second-class citizens, unworthy of the fundamental right to marry the person they love,” said Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.  “As we have said from the very beginning of this case, the denial of that fundamental right seriously harms gay and lesbian Americans and the children they are raising.  It serves no legitimate state interest.  Our Constitution guarantees liberty and equality for all, and today that promise was fulfilled for tens of thousands of gay and lesbian Californians and their families.”

The Supreme Court also issued a decision today in United States v. Windsor, concluding that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional because it violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws.  In an opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Court held that DOMA “demeans” gay and lesbian couples and “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by [those] couples.”

Enacted by Congress in 1996, Section 3 of DOMA nullified the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for all purposes of federal law.  With the end of the Section 3 of DOMA, the federal government will no longer be permitted to exclude legally married gay and lesbian couples from the federal rights, benefits, and burdens that govern all other married couples.

The Windsor case was brought on behalf of Edith (“Edie”) Windsor by the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

READ SUPREME COURT’S DECISION HERE: www.afer.org/marriageinca

READ THE FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT’S DECISION HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Prop8Decision.pdf

 


4 thoughts on “DOMA Dies on Decision Day

  1. I read this amazing news only moments after reading & being saddened at the unseating of Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

    The US supreme court is not a super-power deserving of gratitude- it is a group who are only undoing a great wrong that never should have occurred to begin with.

    Congratulations go, instead, to fairness & equality!!!

    Unfortunately for Ms. Gillard- Australia has been shown to remain a very sexist continent, indeed. She withstood the sort of attacks that never would have been shown to a male counterpart- & did so with grace & aplomb.

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