Sunday, June 10, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #60 - Part 5

Some good news: One small, one major court victory for same-sex marriage

One small but important victory in the struggle for the rights of same-sex couples: On June 5, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to reconsider a three-judge panel's earlier decision that California's infamous Proposition 8 - or PropHate as it came to be known - violated the US constitution's guarantee of equal treatment under the law because the measure took away a right that had previously been obtained through a decision of the California state Supreme Court. The case will now go to the Supreme Court, which likely will hear arguments in the fall and rule next year.

One not small and important victory in that same struggle: On May 31, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that part of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is unconstitutional - specifically, that part that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in their home state. This was the section of the law that the Obama administration previously said it would not defend in court, and - credit where it's due - it didn't. While some district courts have found DOMA or some parts of it unconstitutional, the First Circuit is the first appellate-level court to do so.

What SCOTUS will do is anyone's guess: Anthony Kennedy, often the swing vote in decisions, has argued favorably on gay rights in the past. On the other hand, historically the Court has been reluctant to get too far ahead of public opinion.

But on the other other hand, in this case it wouldn't be: Support for same sex marriage is growing steadily, achieving majority status in some polls and a plurality in others. Indeed, it's getting hard to find a poll showing even a plurality against same-sex marriage. And just remember, when the high court struck down a ban on interracial marriage in 1967, just 45 years ago, polls showed a majority of Americans still opposed to mixed-race marriages.

What's more, the times, they are a-changin', as the cartoon to the side here shows. It portrays a same-sex, mixed-race couple getting married. What is the particular cultural significance of this? It's an Archie cartoon.

I've said it before: On this, justice will come.


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