First of all I want to say thank-you to the courageous plaintiffs of the DOMA and Prop 8 cases, as well as their attorneys and everyone who helped us toward today’s victories in our nation’s highest court. We made history, a history that can never be revoked by a popular vote or referendum. This is permanent and it has set the stage for the final steps in this battle for equality. I am proud of our nation today. We are led by the first president to openly embrace and support the LGBT community. Gays and lesbians are serving openly in the military and now are proud members of the Boy Scouts. It is fitting that these Supreme Court rulings came in June, which is, by presidential proclamation, National LGBT Pride Month. For the first time in history, a majority of Americans favor marriage equality, and that majority becomes a vast majority for those in my generation and younger.
The direction in which we are moving is clear and the path ahead is laid out before us – we need only take a few more steps. I expect it won’t be long now until we achieve nationwide marriage equality in every state as same-sex marriage is now free to follow in the footsteps of Loving v. Virginia. There is still a great deal of work to be done in other areas of law, such as the federal Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), which will make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation in employment and education, respectively. As David Boies, attorney for the plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case, indicated, the DOMA ruling demonstrates that when the issue of gay marriage returns to the high court, “marriage equality will be the law throughout this land.”
When I was in high school, I was harassed on a daily basis for being gay. I was suspended for a week and threatened with arrest because I wore a gay pride t-shirt to school. No state had yet recognized same-sex marriage and sodomy was still criminalized in some parts of the country. My experiences convinced me that I had to take action and stand up for what was right, and shortly after graduating high school, I helped pass Maine’s anti-discrimination bill that outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity / expression. So much has changed since then. Today’s ruling not only grants over 1,000 federal benefits to married same-sex couples, but is also symbolic of a cultural shift. I think I speak on behalf of millions of other gay and lesbian Americans when I say that I feel very affirmed and proud of who I am and my community. Nothing will ever be the same again.
While the majority’s opinion praised equality and condemned discrimination against gay and lesbian people, Justice Scalia’s homophobic dissent was quite prophetic and I believe he is correct. We haven’t much longer to wait until full equality is realized for LGBT Americans…
“The Court is eager – hungry – to tell everyone its view of the legal question at the heart of this case…Yet the plaintiff and the Government agree entirely on what should happen in this lawsuit. They agree that the court below got it right; and they agreed in the court below that the court below that one got it right as well…As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe.”