Today, LGBT organizations released statements on the Supreme Court rulings striking down DOMA and effectively killing Prop 8.
This is a developing story and may be updated throughout the day.
Stay with The New Civil Rights Movement all day, and through the week for breaking news, analysis, and opinion on the SCOTUS same-sex marriage decisions from our community’s finest and most-respected attorneys, activists, politicians, and even plaintiffs in other marriage cases.
Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, issued the following statement today regarding the U.S Supreme Court’s landmark decision that gutted the Defense of Marriage Act and brought federal recognition of legally married same-sex couples:
“This outcome was predicted by legal experts, but it’s still a remarkable and hopeful moment. And while the ruling doesn’t extend marriage equality to any other states, it does mean that when we finally win there too, those wins will be even sweeter.
I’m proud that openly LGBT elected officials led fights in states that today recognize our marriages. They have been crucial to building the bridges to equality that their straight colleagues cross.
Now we must begin to change the hearts and minds of voters, lawmakers and political leaders in the 38 states that still forbid gays and lesbians to marry. That will take the work of the fantastic coalitions that have seen much success in recent years, and it will require electing more LGBT people to change legislatures from the inside.
Today we owe a hearty thank-you to the legal team that won a huge victory for Edie Windsor and same-sex couples across the country. The American Civil Liberties Union had a lot of help from some of our movement’s most dedicated and impressive legal minds, and all of them have worked hard on cases that brought us to this moment.”
“At long last, we can now tell our families that yes, they are eligible to apply for green cards,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality. “Many of our families have waited years, and in some cases decades, for the green card they need to keep their families together. Couples forced into exile will be coming home soon. Americans separated from their spouses are now able to prepare for their reunion. Today’s ruling is literally a life-changing one for those who have suffered under DOMA and our discriminatory immigration laws.”
Today’s 5-to-4 ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, noted that, “The Constitution’s guarantee of equality . . . cannot justify disparate treatment of” lesbian and gay couples. Under the law, the Court found, “same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways. By its great reach, DOMA touches many aspects of married and family life, from the mundane to the profound.” By “treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others,” the Court ruled, “the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
“All Out and our more than 1.7 million members around the world are celebrating today. The Supreme Court’s decisions mean that all legally married couples will finally be protected by the federal government and marriage will be returned to California,” said Andre Banks, Executive Director of All Out. “These decisions will have an enormous impact on millions of families and affirm the commitment to equal protection guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“While we celebrate this important moment in history, All Out remains laser focused on our mission to bring equality around the world,” Banks said. “There are more than 76 countries that still criminalize the love between gays and lesbians, and 10 countries where the punishment is life in prison or death. We encourage gays and lesbians in the U.S. to remember their brothers and sisters around the world. We must not rest until everyone is treated equally regardless of where they live.”
“While marriage for gays and lesbians will be a reality once again in California, the law is still a complicated mess for gays and lesbians in the United States,” Andre Banks said. “Gay Americans have on again off again protections depending on where they live, and where they travel. This is unacceptable, and un-American. We will continue to fight until the freedom to marry is available in 50 states and every country around the world.”
Freedom to Marry
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, issued the following statement:
“The Supreme Court has issued two rulings for freedom and fairness today. Striking down the heart of DOMA, the justices have affirmed that all married couples are equal, ending the ‘gay exception’ that relegated same-sex couples to second-class status for too long. Married couples – gay or non-gay – should be treated as what they are: married. And the ruling on Prop 8 ends marriage discrimination in California, meaning that nearly a third of Americans now live in a state with the freedom to marry.
“This is truly a day of celebration for loving and committed same-sex couples and their families – and for all of us who believe in the American journey to equality under the law and the pursuit of happiness, with liberty and justice for all. The Supreme Court’s mortal blow to DOMA puts the moral weight of the federal government on the side of all Americans who seek to share in the freedom to marry and all its protections and responsibilities.
“And with California now joining 12 other states as engines moving the country forward, Freedom to Marry will continue working our winning strategy: winning more states, fully overturning DOMA to end federal marriage discrimination, and continuing to grow the national majority for marriage. Before long we will be ready to go back before the Supreme Court and win the freedom to marry nationwide.”
“Today’s historic decisions put two giant cracks in the dark wall of discrimination that separates committed gay and lesbian couples from full equality,” said HRC president Chad Griffin, who brought together the bipartisan legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies that brought the Proposition 8 case to the Supreme Court. “While we celebrate the victory for Californians today, tomorrow we turn our attention to the millions of LGBT people who don’t feel the reach of these decisions. From the Rocky Mountains to the heart of the South, it’s time to push equality forward until every American can marry the person they love and all LGBT people are guaranteed equal protection under the law.”
HRC is committed to accelerating the progress of marriage equality through ongoing financial and strategic assistance to efforts in states around the country, including New Jersey, Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada and others. And with the Defense of Marriage Act gone, the organization is pushing hard to ensure that the Obama administration cuts through regulatory clutter and delivers the greatest number of benefits to the greatest amount of people.
“These decisions underscore the emergence of two Americas. In one, LGBT citizens are nearing full equality. In the other, our community lacks even the most basic protections,” said Griffin. “Everywhere that injustice still prevails, we will fight for justice. And our message to those who cement their feet on the wrong side of history is that we will win.”
Hollingsworth v. Perry, previously known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger and Perry v. Brown, was filed on behalf of two same-sex couples in federal district court in California in May 2009. Under the sponsorship of the American Foundation for Equality Rights – co-founded by HRC President Chad Griffin – and represented by conservative attorney Ted Olson and liberal attorney David Boies, the plaintiffs achieved victories in both district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, both of which ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
In Windsor v. U.S., Edie Windsor, represented by the ACLU and the law firm Paul Weiss, challenged section 3 of DOMA which required her to pay $363,000 in estate taxes after her partner and spouse of more than 40 years passed away. If Edie had been married to a man, instead of a woman, it is undisputed that her estate tax bill would have been zero.
Family Equality Council
“This is an historic and momentous day for millions of families in our country with parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) said Family Equality Council Board Chair Alan Bernstein. “Today the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that loving, married same-sex couples and their children deserve equal protection under the law.”
Key to the rulings was an historic Amicus Brief, authored by pro-bono counsel Bryan Cave on behalf of Family Equality Council, which elevated the voices of children of LGBT parents- many of whom are part of a national public education and advocacy program, The Outspoken Generation. In writing the Windsor opinion, Justice Kennedy wrote, DOMA “… humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.”
LGBT family advocate and Outspoken Generation Co-Chair Zach Wahls said the rulings reaffirm a message he has been spreading nationally since his 2011 speech before the Iowa legislature went viral on YouTube.
“This is an incredible victory for families like mine,” said Wahls. “Children of LGBT parents deserve to have our voices heard, and today we know that we were. The Supreme Court has finally recognized that our parents and our families deserve to be treated with dignity and respect under the law.”
Outspoken Generation Co-chair Ella Robinson, the daughter of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson, offered her perspective.
“For more than year, I have traveled across this country, speaking to young people like myself – raised by parents who are LGBT,” said Robinson.“ This is a great day for us, and for our families, because we know that these rulings makes our families that much stronger. These decisions are a huge step forward and I can’t wait for the day where all our families are treated equally under the law.”
Sarah Gogin, the daughter of two fathers who live in California, who have been together more than 40 years, was the named individual amicus on the brief.
“I walked my Dads down the aisle at their wedding in 2008, before California passed Proposition 8, and witnessed them vow to take care of each other forever,” said Gogin. “Now, families all over California can share the feelings of love, security and stability that come with marriage. I hope that soon the laws in other states will catch up, and that all American families will be treated equally under the law.”
Family Equality Council Board Chair Alan Bernstein acknowledged that today’s victories still leave millions of families waiting for the marriage equality.
“On behalf of the six million people in our country who have LGBT parents, Family Equality Council will continue to work towards full marriage equality,” said Bernstein. “ We look forward to the day when every family in every state has the right to marry.”
Garden State Equality
Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality, issued the following statement:
“This is a truly monumental day for our community and in our movement for equal rights. Today, the Supreme Court has decided that the federal government can no longer discriminate in its treatment of married couples, gay or straight.
“Same-sex couples in 12 [] states and the District of Columbia will have all the rights and benefits afforded their opposite-sex brothers and sisters. We congratulate Edie Windsor, her attorneys, the ACLU, and the many organizations and activists who fought for this victory.
“However, the day is also bittersweet for New Jersey and in dozens of states around the country where discrimination continues and same sex couples remain relegated to second-class citizenship.
“New Jersey’s LGBT families will continue to be denied 1,138 rights and benefits granted to married couples by the federal government, even as those rights are conferred to LGBT families in our neighboring states. That is because New Jersey’s civil union couples are not afforded full marriage equality. The inequality has never been more clear, the debate is over, and the only solution is to grant the freedom to marry now!
“There is no longer any excuse to delay: the state must rectify the discrimination taking place within our borders immediately. It is immoral as it is impractical to force any New Jersey family to be stripped of critical economic and legal protections every time they cross the Hudson or Delaware Rivers to return home from our closest neighboring states.
“More than 60 percent of New Jerseyans across all racial, socioeconomic, and generational divisions agree that the time to enact marriage equality is now, and the government must not abdicate any further responsibility in granting equal rights immediately.
“With today’s decisions by the Court, it’s become more clear than ever that not only are LGBT people treated as second-class citizens in New Jersey, but that New Jersey itself risks becoming a second-class state to its neighbors, where all people will be treated equally at all levels of government.
“Further, we congratulate the people of California on their victory today in restoring equality to our nation’s largest state. With the discriminatory and legally unjustifiable Proposition 8 thrown out by the courts, 30% of our nation’s population will now live in states with marriage equality. New Jersey’s nine million residents look forward to joining them soon.”
“At long last, the legal marriages of countless gay and lesbian couples will be afforded the same federal recognition and protections as any other,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. “Today is a cornerstone for justice and equality — when our nation once again moved closer to recognizing and celebrating all LGBT Americans for their contributions to our great country.”
The Court also denied standing in Hollingsworth v Perry, which challenged the constitutionality of California’s anti-gay Proposition 8 or Prop. 8, a statewide ban on marriage equality. The decision will restore marriage equality in California.
“Fairness has finally been restored in California,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. “A majority of Americans, and now the highest Court in the land, agree that it’s wrong to strip loving and committed gay and lesbian couples of the fundamental opportunity to marry the person you love. Today, we stand in solidarity with millions of Californians, who can finally say ‘I do’ to the person they love.”
“Today, we congratulate plaintiff Edie Windsor, her incredible legal team, and all those who have stood up for the freedom to marry in America. This victory is especially sweet for our nation’s lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members, who can now not only serve openly, but can serve knowing that their loving, committed, and legal marriages will be recognized by the military they serve and the nation they protect,” said Army veteran and OutServeSLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson.
Currently twelve states and the District of Columbia permit samegender marriages. Robinson said today’s victory adds to the rapidly growing momentum for marriage in the U.S.
“This victory energizes our work moving forward and lays a new, strong foundation for ensuring marriage for all loving and committed couples in our country across all fifty states,” said Robinson.
Robinson thanked the plaintiffs in OutServeSLDN’s landmark litigation, McLaughlin v. Panetta, which was filed in October 2011 on behalf of eight married gay and lesbian military couples seeking equal recognition, support, and benefits, for their part in bringing the stories of gay and lesbian military families to the fore. Despite today’s ruling, the McLaughlincase will move forward because the case challenges the constitutionality of other statutes in addition to DOMA.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the McLaughlin plaintiffs today, including the late Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan and her family, all of whom courageously stepped forward to do something very difficult: to file suit against their employer, the Department of Defense, as well the Department of Veterans Affairs. In doing so, they stood up not only for their own families, but for countless LGBT military families they will never know. Their stories have been, and will continue to be, a gamechanger as the marriage fight marches forward,” said Robinson.
Robinson called on the Pentagon to act immediately and unequivocally to implement today’s ruling.“Secretary Hagel has already demonstrated his commitment to LGBT military families, just as he promised he would during his confirmation. Today the Court cleared the way for him to take the next step. We expect Secretary Hagel to act so that all families affected by today’s ruling gain access to full recognition, benefits, and support no later than sixty days from today. OutServeSLDN will be working with the Pentagon and the VA to ensure that the greatest number of federal protections, responsibilities and programs are available to all military couples as soon as possible,” said Robinson.
People For the American Way Foundation
People For the American Way Foundation President Michael Keegan issued the following statement:
“Today’s DOMA ruling is a profound step forward for loving, committed same-sex couples across the country. The decision is premised on the plain fact that there is no good reason for the government to recognize some legally married couples while discriminating against others.
“While the outcome of Hollingsworth v. Perry reflects a missed opportunity to affirm the freedom to marry nationwide, it also serves a long-overdue restoration of justice to the thousands of loving couples in California who suddenly saw their marriages put up for a popular vote. This decision clears the way for same-sex couples in California to once again be treated equally under the law.
“Today isn’t just a good day for the LGBT community. It’s an important victory for all Americans who value the principle of equal justice under law and who believe that the long arc of the universe bends ultimately towards justice.
“I couldn’t be happier that Section Three of DOMA and Prop 8 have been consigned to the dustbin of history. But we won’t rest until couples in every state have an equal right to marry the under the law. There’s plenty of work left to do. We can’t wait to do it.”
“Today, committed and loving LGBT couples and their families, friends and allies in California and across the country celebrate a huge step forward towards full acceptance and equality,” said PFLAG National Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby. “The Supreme Court’s dual rulings affirm what we at PFLAG have always known to be true: that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are fundamental rights for all Americans, and that denial of those rights seriously harms LGBT people and their families.”
Joining in the celebration were PFLAG members and supporters from across the country who had worked tirelessly to ensure that their loved ones would receive equal treatment under the law.
Said PFLAG Los Angeles President Mariette Sawchuk, “When my son Stephen came out he said to me, ‘Mom, all I have ever wanted is to have a family and to have a marriage like yours and Dad’s.’ Thanks to today’s ruling, my twin sons–both of whom are gay–will have the opportunity to share in an enduring, loving, legally recognized and protected marriage.”
Sawchuk was one of several PFLAG members who shared personal stories in an Amicus Brief submitted by PFLAG to the Supreme Court regarding Proposition 8.
Another PFLAGer who participated in the brief was Eric Brock, whose older brother Brandon is gay. While Eric, Brandon, and each of their spouses celebrated today’s rulings, they acknowledged that there is still work to be done; Brandon and his spouse, Alexis Caloza, were married in New York and reside in San Francisco, where–thanks to today’s ruling–their marriage is now legal again. But Eric still resides in Arkansas where the brothers were born and raised, a state whose constitution bans same-sex marriage and civil unions.
Said the younger Brock, “I am incredibly excited that my brother’s New York State marriage will be recognized by the Federal government and in the state of California where he now lives. This was a big step forward, but there is still a long way to go to reach full equality. We need to keep working so that If Brandon and Alexis should ever choose to return to Arkansas, the federal government would provide them all the benefits of marriage within that state…even if the state itself didn’t yet legally recognize their relationship.”
PFLAG National ED Huckaby agreed with Brock, stating, “PFLAG National and its vast chapter network will continue to move hearts and change minds to win full marriage equality at the federal level and in more states, and to grow support among the majority of Americans throughout the country. Together, we will continue to affirm the message that, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, love is love, family is family, and marriage is marriage.”
Image, top, by Rep. Jackie Speier via Twitter
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