My 61st birthday was on the Sunday before the two days of oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court in the Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop 8) and United States v. Windsor (Defense of Marriage Act) cases, which will determine whether or not my life as an American citizen qualifies for equal rights under the law. It is interesting that I speak about my life, as it is truly my family, and other similarly situated families, that will be affected either positively or negatively by the rulings, which are expected to be handed down as early as late June.Mr. David Boies, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry, claims to have met the criteria for granting marriage equality:
- Marriage is a fundamental right.
- Not allowing us to marry harm not only us but our children.
- Allowing us to marry doesn't harm anyone or the institution of marriage.
Yet I still fear that there are justices on the Supreme Court who will look upon these cases not through the lens of the U.S. Constitution but through the lens of social, political, economic or personal religious beliefs, which may guide their decision on how to vote, not the merits of the cases
Letting the states decide on the issue of gay marriage through ballot initiatives presently serves the right-wing conservative movement, given how many states have done as much and decided against my husband Ron and me. But the pendulum is swinging in our favor. Also, the argument that procreation is the purpose for marriage is a sorry one and offends those who can't conceive or choose not to have children but still marry because they simply love one another. And then there is the fact that Ron and I have five biological children and, at last count, seven grandchildren. Let it be known that our God made us in His image; neither of us chose to be this way. In fact, we both had denied who we are for many years until we could no longer live the lie. God bless the child who will no longer need to live the lie.
During oral arguments in the Prop 8 case, Justice Antonin Scalia wanted to know when it became unconstitutional to exclude same-sex couples from getting married, apparently hoping to establish a recent date, such as when Massachusetts granted marriage equality in 2004. But to a rational human being it has been unconstitutional to exclude same-sex couples from marriage ever since the Constitution was written. Yet Justice Scalia then broached a subject that is central to the overarching issue of marriage equality: What effect will it have on the children? He told us that "there's considerable disagreement among sociologists as to what the consequences of raising a child in a single-sex family... whether that is harmful to the child or not." I would beg to differ. The stigma attached to same-sex unions because they don't have equal protection under the law damages these very children. We need to give the children a sign that they too are loved, that it is no longer acceptable for people to stigmatize them or their families, and that the love of their same-sex parents is to be celebrated, as is the love that those same parents shower upon their children.
Come August, Ron and I will have been together for 34 years. We have shared our lives through good times and bad times, sickness and health, etc. We've both worked or gone back to school during this time to further our education and add to our economic and social environment. We've not had it easy, but we have made the best of our situation, and we have committed our lives to one another on five different occasions. Yes, we are a family.
In Windsor, when addressing the issue of whether or not Section 3 of DOMA is constitutional in denying legally married same-sex couples federal benefits, it is important to not lose sight of the fact that the House of Representatives' 1996 report on the passage of DOMA says outright that the law "entails both moral disapproval of homosexuality and a moral conviction that heterosexuality better comports with traditional (especially Judeo-Christian) morality" -- and Justice Elena Kagan pointed this out during the oral arguments. This is blatant discrimination, so there is no question that DOMA should be ruled unconstitutional. However, the larger question, as Justice Anthony Kennedy stated, "is whether or not the federal government ... has the authority to regulate marriage."
For me and millions of others who are similarly situated, there are personal reasons why granting LGBT people the right to marry is the right thing to do. These ultimately come down to finances, which many suspect are the very reasons that the cases before the Supreme Court may fall short of granting equal rights throughout the land. There are those who claim that the cost of allowing so many additional families on the books could, potentially, be devastating to the economy of our country by depleting Social Security, Medicare, etc. What is forgotten are the revenues that will be generated by the marriages that will take place all across the country if we were allowed to live in equality, and the sanctifying of families for the children of LGBT parents. If for no other reason, the right-wing evangelicals should let the children of every family begin to embrace and love all our neighbors as we embrace and love ourselves, as Jesus would have them do.
There has also been discussion of the so-called "Portman effect," whereby members of Congress are coming out in droves to support marriage equality, but there is an undercurrent of discontent with the timing, a feeling of "too little too late." Again, I beg to differ. When anyone wants to grant Ron and me equal rights, it is never too little or too late. I embrace and thank these women and men who have taken the bold step forward. It is my fervent wish, and our children's, and our grandchildren's, all across America, that we be treated no differently from any other loving spouses.
The rulings are expected to be released during the month of June, around the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, which took place in New York City's Greenwich Village, ushering in the LGBT rights movement. It would be appropriate for a favorable ruling to be announced during the month in which LGBT people celebrate our diversity and our similarities. Pride parades in 2013 would truly be a celebration of a major turning point in our lives. New York City's parade is scheduled for June 30, and Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the DOMA case, will be one of the Grand Marshalls in the parade. Now this would be sweet justice.My predictions:
- The ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry will uphold the lower court's decision, which will allow marriage equality in California. The court will base this on the fact that the petitioners had no standing to bring the case, which will give the court an out from ruling on marriage equality itself, thereby not setting any precedent.
- As for United States v. Windsor, Section 3 of DOMA will be ruled unconstitutional, though this ruling has no bearing on states where there is not currently marriage equality. The good news is that those of us who are legally married will qualify for the more than 1,100 federal rights that we are presently being denied. We will then need to fight for the rights of our brothers and sisters in those states that currently discriminate against them.
We have only begun to fight. Time is of the essence!