Saturday, December 21, 2013

Quite a Year

A wedding happened yesterday.

Such a wonderful, ordinary thing.

Except that it was two men getting married. Legally. In Utah.

Yesterday I shared this picture on Facebook, courtesy of Freedom to Marry.

It really illustrates what an extraordinary year this has been for marriage equality.

In one year, eight states (EIGHT!) have been added to the number of states with marriage equality. LGBT people can now legally marry in seventeen states. And more importantly, the Supreme Court on June 26 overturned a key portion of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, meaning marriages in those states are legal in the eyes of the federal government. Meaning my marriage was legal federally and my friends who had married non-Americans could apply for their spouses to become American. And some of them are already in the process of doing so. Deportations of legal spouses stopped. And my friends serving this country could plan to come home when they retire, home to the country they love with the spouse they love.

And now, a majority of Americans support the right of gays and lesbians to marry.

Quite a year indeed.

And then I woke this morning to discover that the picture I shared last night was wrong.

Because last night, Utah's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages was found by the court to violate the U.S. Constitution

(Which is huge, because it could ultimately result in the overturning of all of the constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. According the to article:

"[Judge] Shelby writes the issue of same-sex marriage is “politically charged in the current climate” and more so because the current law is in place as a result of referendum. However, Shelby rules that even a vote of the people can’t defy the U.S. Constitution.

“It is only under exceptional circumstances that a court interferes with such action,” Shelby writes. “But the legal issues presented in this lawsuit do not depend on whether Utah’s laws were the result of its legislature or a referendum, or whether the laws passed by the widest or smallest of margins. The question presented here depends instead on the Constitution itself, and on the interpretation of that document contained in binding precedent from the Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

The judge concludes by drawing on the 1966 case of Loving v. Virginia, which struck down state bans on interracial marriage throughout the country, saying the defense in favor of these bans 50 years ago is the same the state provided for Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“For the reasons discussed above, the court finds these arguments as unpersuasive as the Supreme Court found them fifty years ago,” Shelby writes. “Anti-miscegenation laws in Virginia and elsewhere were designed to, and did, deprive a targeted minority of the full measure of human dignity and liberty by denying them the freedom to marry the partner of their choice. Utah’s Amendment 3 achieves the same result.”")

And that court ruled there would be no stay, and LGBT people could marry immediately.

And one hour later, two men were married in Utah.

A simple, ordinary, beautiful, wonderful thing. In Utah.

The 18th state!

Once again, love wins.

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