ERMAHGERD. This fuckin’ day! How fantastic are the rulings out of SCOTUS?! Pretty fucking phenomenal. Personally, I am stoked- the Supreme Court held section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional under Equal Protection grounds and vacated and remanded the Prop 8 ruling from California. Wait… what? What the fuck does that mean?! Exactly, ‘Merica. These decisions are complicated, and as a lowly law student I am giving my personal albeit colorfully fabulous interpretation of the facts.
You know what did happen today? DOMA DIDN’T GET OVERTURNED. There are 3 sections to DOMA, and only section 3 was conclusively overturned in the majority opinion. Section 3 defines marriage as being between a man and a woman and defines spouse as being a member of the opposite sex. The Supreme Court was all like, “Hey, you can’t treat people differently out of animus under the law,” and the gays were like, “OMG great… let’s post about it on Facebook!” While this is fantastic, this also means that section 2 is still in full effect. Section 2 allows states that DON’T recognize/allow same-sex marriage to continue to not recognize marriages from other states… meaning if my girlfriend and I drove up to Niagara Falls right now in our hatchback, tied the knot, and then scissored it to shreds in a sleazy motel, we would drive back to Ohio and receive no state recognition of our marriage. No state tax breaks, benefits, etc. But the feds WILL have to acknowledge us, right?! I mean, yes… I hope so. Time will tell what will happen. Maybe an executive order from Obama. Maybe an intervention from ancient aliens. (I’ve been watching too much History channel lately.)
Another thing to remember about the DOMA Case? Edie Windsor, the plaintiff, is an old, upper-middle class white woman who lives in New York State. This is not to discount her struggle and the honorable place she now holds in history, but the Supreme Court ruled on HER case, with HER facts, and HER issue. That’s what courts do… they are obliged to only look at the case in front of them. Each fact pattern is different, and who knows what will face courts in this country in the future that will allow them to interpret section 2 of DOMA and uphold it. *Shudder*.
The Prop 8 case is complicated… and frankly… it’s a state case that should have stayed a state case. Prop 8 was a 2008 ballot initiative to take away the rights of same-sex couples from marrying in Cali. A gay couple challenged this because they wanted to get married, and the state government was like, “No way! We aren’t touching that with a ten foot pole covered in glitter.” Then, a private party (a douchey, hate-filled private party) took up the mantle of defending Prop 8. That’s a private party on each side…. which means this is NOT A FEDERAL ISSUE. The Supreme Court vacated the federal ruling from the 9th Circuit and remanded the case BACK to the District Court. Now… the District Court found Prop 8 unconstitutional already, and the California government is already taking steps to make marriage licenses accessible to same-sex couples. Huzzah! Guess what? YOU STILL CANNOT GET MARRIED IN OHIO.
Justice and equality are exciting! They are exciting to tweet about and post about and create memes about. I fucking love memes. But the bottom line here, tops and bottoms, is that Ohio still has a statewide DOMA and a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. 36 states still don’t have marriage equality, and those states will not be recognizing Travis’ marriage to Jeremy after they eloped in Iowa anytime soon. Celebrate with friends and family tonight, but tomorrow, look around at your job and your school in Ohio and remember that we still have a long way to go on the path to equality. And fortunately for YOU, I look great in battle armor. We won today, and we should celebrate… but let’s look to the future to win this gay war for us, and for our children (or if you’re a lesbian… for our dogs).