, Gloucester, MA

June 27, 2013

Letter: Landmark ruling hardly the end of gay marriage fight

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Ten years to the day after the Supreme Court, led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, struck down as unconstitutional a Texas law that turned gay couples into criminals in their own homes for engaging in intimate behavior, the Supreme Court on Wednesday, again led by Justice Kennedy, struck down as unconstitutional the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a ruling that was truly historic in its scope.

The Court majority ruled that DOMA wrongly denied married gay couples living in states where their marriages are legal the “equal protections” the U.S. Constitution guarantees all Americans. In its ruling, the Court said the federal government was doing such couples and their families undue harm and injury.

In a separate opinion, the Court ruled the couple who appealed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that Proposition 8’s ban on gay marriage violated the rights of gay couples in California to equal protection and due process under that state’s constitution had no standing to bring the appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Both decisions are huge steps forward in gay Americans’ pursuit of our rights and full equality in the eyes of the law.

The big question one day after the decisions is this: With the federal government now recognizing gay marriages performed in states where such unions are legal, with the Supreme Court having struck down federally sanctioned discrimination against married gay couples, and with legal gay marriage in California set to resume, how long will it be until legal challenges are mounted to laws in states that currently prohibit gay marriage?

It is inevitable that such challenges will be mounted and, with these two precedents now firmly established, I believe it is also only a matter time until such laws are struck down.

That begs another question: How ugly will things get as the increasingly small, far right, minority that opposes marriage equality for gay couples sees one state law after another struck down?

This is all eerily reminiscent of the mid 19th century, when the nation was divided into slave holding and non-slave holding states, and passions about that issue ran so deep the nation went to war against itself.

What we are now looking at is a nation made up of gay marriage accepting states and gay marriage rejecting states, with, at the very least, a heated and bitter legal battle looming on the horizon.

As much as I share in the celebratory mood after yesterday’s decisions, I was involved in the fights for gay rights and against AIDS long enough to know just how ugly the next chapter in this still unfolding story could get.