In Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Court will determine the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which stripped same-sex couples in California of their right to marriage in 2008. Approximately 109,000 same-sex couples lost the freedom to marry in California that year.
In United States v. Windsor, the Court will rule on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, a federal law passed in 1996 that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman for the purposes of more than 1,000 federal laws and programs. DOMA implicates everything from veterans’ benefits to immigration to federal estate taxes, and it unfairly discriminates against legally married same-sex couples by denying them federal benefits and protections currently enjoyed by opposite-sex couples.
The multiple possible outcomes of the cases, individually and collectively, make my eyes glaze over. I am simultaneously overwhelmed by the legalese and the detached tone of discussing the fate of an entire oppressed group. So, please refer elsewhere if you want the cases and the possible rulings explained in layperson’s terms!
(Some Of) The Facts+
But, here are some things I do know:
- If SCOTUS provides anything short of nation-wide marriage equality, the fight for marriage equality will continue.
- US marriage equality or not, the fight for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer people is far from over. Marriage equality represents the major LGBT issue of the moment, but it will not provide wide-sweeping protections from discrimination and assurance of equal treatment and access. Other pertinent issues remain: adoption for LGBT couples; LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws; LGBT-inclusive immigration policies; repealing the policies that force trans* people out of the military; ending violence against LGBT people; including LGBT people in educational curriculum and the media; banning reparative therapy; demedicalizing gender non-conformity and trans* identities; LGBT-friendly policies for older adults; etc, etc, etc! Addressing other issues not directly related to sexual or gender identity would also improve the lives and status of LGBT people (e.g., poverty).
- Since prejudice toward interracial couples and families, and multiracial/multiethnic people lingers years after the US ruled against anti-miscegenation laws, we can expect homo-, bi-, and transphobia to continue well beyond the inevitable legalization of same-gender marriages. Fortunately, Americans’ approval of marriage equality precedes legal action (unlike the course interracial marriage took), so, arguably, we will not have as far to go to eliminate antipathy toward same-gender couples. But, pessimism (or is it being realistic?) will not allow me to be so hopeful.
Here are some strong guesses as to what may come in the near future:
- Whether we have nation-wide marriage equality by July 1st or more years of legal and political battles, the realization of same-gender couples as equal and worthy of legal recognition will improve the status of LGBT people. These couples will find stability in external recognition and celebration (benefits, tax breaks, family approval).
- The health and well-being of LGBT individuals will be improved, as well — married or not. Marriage equality alone will not bring this, but it will certainly help. Being free from discrimination, prejudice, and violence, as well as the constant fear of these aspects of trans-, bi-, and homophobia will also improve things for LGBT people.
- The next Democrat presidential candidate will fully support marriage equality from the start of their campaign. And, I suspect, like President Obama’s re-election, their stance on the issue will play little role in their chances for the election (that is, to those outside of LGBT communities).
- It will be a looooonggg time before a LGBT person will be elected president. Let me clarify. He will probably be a white cisgender married gay man with liberal-moderate views. All else being “normal” will allow America to “see past” his sexual identity. And, America will be ready to breathe a sigh of relief that the era of post-homophobia has been ushered in.
Finally, here is one more fact (read: my opinion, which is shared by fellow LGBT people and our allies):