Oh My God – We’re Married! Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA, Prop 8

Written by scott on June 26th, 2013


OMG – after five years of waiting, Mark and I are finally, truly married!

This morning, the US Supreme Court ruled to strike down DOMA’s section three, meaning that married gay and lesbian couples now have access to the same federal rights and responsibilities as straight ones. The court ruled broadly on an equal protections basis, which has big implications going forward.

It also narrowly struck down Prop 8 in California on a technicality – if all goes smoothly, gays and lesbians will be able to marry there again in 25-30 days.

From ScotusBlog on DOMA:

The ruling: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_g2bh.pdf

5-4 vote, Kennedy finishes the majority with the liberal justices.

–DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.

–“DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled ot recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty.”

–The opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.

–The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.

–Justice Scalia is reading from his dissent right now. The Court’s opinion both in explaining its jurisdiction and its decision “both spring from the same diseased root: an exalted notion of the role of this court in American democratic society.”

–To reiterate again, in case my first post didn’t go through a minute or so ago, DOMA has been struck down. Opinion is by Justice Kennedy, joined by the four liberal Justices — Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

From ScotusBlog on Prop 8:

The ruling:


5-4 vote, Kennedy dissents, the Chief Justice finishes the liberal majority.

–The Alito dissent in DOMA: “Whether the [BLAG] has standing to address the petition is a much more difficult question.” There is language suggesting that the Court will dismiss Prop 8 on standing.

–Page 4 of the Roberts dissent, talking about Prop 8: “We hold today that we lack jurisdiction to consider it in the particular context of Hollingsworth v. Perry.”

–To be clear: Windsor does not establish a constitutional right to same sex marriage. It was important to the outcome that the couple in the case was legally married under state law. The equal protection violation arose from Congress’s disrespecting that decision by New York to allow the marriage.

–From the opinion: 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.

–The Ninth Circuit was without jurisdiciton 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.

Wow – we’re married! Yes, we’re not all the way to full equality yet, but it’s been an amazing ride.

When Mark and I first met, way back in 1992, marriage equality was hardly even a dream. Sure, I’d been to a commitment ceremony once – a secretive affair conducted in a stand of bamboo at the Huntington Museum, with three or four friends crowded protectively around the happy couple to keep strangers away. But the idea that the state of California, or much less the federal government, would recognize our marriage was almost unthinkable.

And yet here we are more than two decades later, married in the state of California for almost five years, and now, suddenly, married in rhe rest of the United States too.

We came late to activism. We started our company, Mongoose on the Loose Web Design, and one of our first big projects was a directory of gay friendly places to stay. Purple Roofs was an immediate success, and we started casting about for another big project. We wanted to do something we cared about, something we believed in. So in 2003, Purple Unions was born, our very own directory of gay and gay friendly wedding vendors.

In 2004, the electrifying news came – San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was calling gay and lesbian couples to The City to get married.

We waited. We talked. We wanted to get married, and that was the problem – we wanted the whole thing – the big wedding, the friends and family, the meaning of it all. Would a rushed wedding at City Hall give us those things? Probably not. But in the end, we felt the call of history. I made a call to my mother, and asked her if she would promise to come when the “real wedding” took place at a later date. She agreed, and we decided to go ahead.

We drove down to San Francisco on the morning of March 11th, and actually missed our appointment. We had been warned we would lose our spot, but they took us anyway – we learned a little later that the California Supreme Court had just stopped all the weddings after almost a month. We still think the city knew the ruling was coming, and did everything they could to get as many of us in under the wire.

We were married by two volunteers – a minister and a man who was there to serve as witness to the happy couples. And in spite of it being, at least partially, a political act we were making, it meant something. To stand there in City Hall and be recognized as a wedded couple in the eyes of San Francisco meant something.

Of course, the state Supreme Court would step in and annul our wedding a few months later.

People forget that the initiative drive for Prop 8 actually began in the Fall of 2007, well before the state Supreme Court ruled in the issue the next June. It looked like an easy victory for us, with the numbers something like 52% against it and 43% in support. But the Supreme Court ruling on that glorious day in June provoked a backlash, and a series of nasty, misleading TV ads did the rest.

Once again we waited – we didn’t think Prop 87 would actually pass, and we wanted to have a big wedding the next year, when our families could make the journey to be with us.

But fate called our bluff again. Three weeks before the election, it became apparent that Prop 8 would pass, and so we set about planning a last-minute wedding. We found the venue – a beautiful restaurant in San Francisco with a terrace overlooking Justin Herman Plaza; an officiant; a violinist; and a photographer. We chose a date – November 1st, 2008, three days before the election.

And we called our closest family. My parents and Mark’s mom (his dad had passed away twenty years earlier) dropped everything to come, as did his brother.

As we awaited the big day, the forecast became darker and darker, and finally we knew it would rain, and rain hardest, at the moment of our ceremony.

These things can freak out a bride or groom, but we just laughed. We had our covered patio, and nothing would keep us from getting married.

In the end, it did rain. It was glorious, and the rain gave us one of the most memorable photos of our wedding day. Although the crowd was small, the people who were supposed to be there were there.

Now here we are, at last married from coast to coast. There are still many questions to answer – what happens if we move to a state that doesn’t recognize marriage equality? What if we are traveling and need to visit the hospital in such a state?

And yet, it’s worthwhile to stop and take a breath, and look back at how far we have come in twenty one years. From a couple of guys to a truly married couple, still in love.


3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Lucinda says:

    So happy for you! My wife and I were married in 2009 in MA and our marriage is now federally recognized. Reading the actual Court opinion was so affirming…tears flowed!!

  2. "BC" says:

    How could this human rights issue have ever NOT been a Federal one? Finally, closure on this point!

  3. Robert Skip Burns says:

    Bless you both and me. I have been sitting in Thailand for the past 5 years waiting on this. Now, finally, my Thai husband and I can apply for a “spouse” visa to live and work in the good old USA. I will most likely make it back home before I am ashes.
    It is indeed a wonderful day!!

    Skip in Thailand.

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