WASHINGTON, July 12, 2014 — Since the Supreme Court bolstered the right to same-sex marriage in two rulings last summer, no court has ruled against the right of gay or lesbian couples to marry. In 24 consecutive cases decided since the Supreme Court’s June 2013 rulings, freedom to marry the person of your choice has been upheld with compelling and legally sound analysis.
Eighteen federal courts, five state courts and one federal appellate court have ruled in favor of the right to marry the person of your choice.
In June, 2013, in Windsor v. United States, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the “Defense of Marriage Act,” the 1996 federal law that denied legally married same-sex couples over 1,100 protections and responsibilities of marriage.
The Supreme Court also dismissed a California lawsuit, Hollingsworth v. Perry, declaring that the proponents of Proposition 8 lacked legal standing to appeal the lower court rulings that had already invalidated the state’s Proposition 8. This California ballot proposition, and state constitutional amendment, stood for the concept that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid.” Previously, a Federal District Court ruled that this Proposition was unconstitutional, meaning same-sex couples can marry.
It is now time for opponents to stop the discussion, stop the appeals, accept the law, stop wasting judicial resources and stop spending unnecessary time and money. To apply an irreverent but appropriate response to many illogical arguments, it is now time for opponents to “get a life”.
According to Wikipedia, “get a life” is originally an American idiom and catch phrase usually intended as a taunt, to indicate that the person being so addressed is devoting an inordinate amount of time to trivial or hopeless matters.
The majority of America has spoken.
Nineteen states – CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, VT, and WA — plus Washington, D.C. — have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
In thirteen more states — AR, CO, ID, IN, KY, MI, OK, TX, UT, VA and WI — judges have struck down marriage bans, and in OH and TN, judges have issued more limited pro-marriage rulings: They have ruled in favor of the freedom to marry.
Three more states provide protections for same-sex couples just short of the right to marry — Colorado provides for civil union; Nevada has broad “domestic partnership” laws; Wisconsin has a limited domestic partnership law.
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last summer in Windsor did not mandate that states abandon their individual restrictions on legal unions. The Supreme Court historically rules as narrowly as possible. Nonetheless, the courts across the country have unanimously made clear that prohibitions on marriage are unconstitutional as they violate individuals’ rights to equal protection under the law.
States recognize they must accept marriages performed in other states.
The 32 states that still ban same-sex marriages are:
By State Constitution and State Law (25): Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia; and
By State Constitution (3): Nebraska, Nevada and Wisconsin; and
By State Law only (3): Indiana, West Virginia and Wyoming.
In nine of these states, opponents to same-sex marriage are appealing rulings in favor of gay marriage. Does the expression “the writing is on the wall” mean anything here?
Appeals are currently pending in Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at the University of Richmond, says “it’s likely that the LGBT advocates’ winning streak will end somewhere on the appellate level. While district judges function more independently, appeals court judges tend to be more ideological, and thus it’s more likely they cumulatively will express opinions on both sides of the debate.”
Tobias’ prediction is probably correct, but ultimately the decisions of appeals courts will not change anything. The Supreme Court will ultimately be tasked to decide, again, the legality and constitutionality of same-sex marriage.
The betting parlors across the country will go wild. What are the odds of the Supreme Court reversing itself here?
None of the dissenting Justices, not even the Court’s most conservative, Justice Scalia, opposed gay marriage in the Windsor opinion; the dissenters opposed their jurisdiction to decide the matter. Translation: The dissenting Justices felt that the states should decide, not the Supreme Court.
Religious beliefs aside, there is no legal argument, much less any precedent, against same-sex marriage. With significant, legitimate differences of opinion on issues that rightly concern Americans, it is time to focus on those issues, redirect time, energy and money on them, and move past the opposition to same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is a right that as denied harms many, and as denied, fails to further any interest of the right’s antagonists.
Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980. He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website.
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