One year after historic Supreme Court ruling, momentum for marriage surges
June 26, 2014
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Windsor v. United States, which struck down the core of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act and found marriage discrimination unconstitutional. And as we celebrate this anniversary - and reflect on the key players in the case, including the American Civil Liberties Union; Roberta Kaplan at the firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; and of course, Edith Windsor - we look toward a future where same-sex couples across the country are free to marry and are treated equally.
Since last June, the landscape in the campaign to win marriage nationwide has immeasurably changed, with hundreds of thousands of couples receiving the legal respect from the federal government that they deserve, an additional 6 states (HI, IL, NJ, NM OR & PA) extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples, and 22 courts - including yesterday's landmark victory at the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit - ruling in favor of marriage.
Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson reflected on the big anniversary:
The Supreme Court got it right in Windsor, demolishing all the arguments put forward to justify marriage discrimination and affirming that marriage matters to gay couples as it does to all loving, committed couples. Our continuing momentum in the court of public opinion as well as the courts of law shows that America is ready for the freedom to marry.
But America remains a house divided, with some states treating all couples equally and others starkly discriminating. The constitutional guarantees of equal protection and the freedom to marry belong to all Americans, no matter where they live. Every day the injustice and hardship of marriage discrimination goes on is a day too long. It’s time for the Supreme Court to finish the job.
We've come a long way in just one year - but we're not there yet. In many ways, the marriage discrimination that still persists in 31 states is clearer and more egregious than ever, as same-sex couples are treated differently across the country: There are married couples who are treated as married by their state and the federal government; there are married couples who are respected as married federally but disrespected at the state level; and there are couples who want to marry but have been unable because of their state's anti-marriage laws.
But momentum for marriage - and an undeniable call for the Supreme Court to take up another case and finish the job - is reverberating louder than ever in 2014. Just weeks ago, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah called on the Court to take a case next year, calling that “an appropriate time to decide this issue once and for all” and saying that marriage for same-sex couples is “going to become the law of the land.”
Bipartisan support for marriage has only increased in the past year. Republican Governors, including Tom Corbett (PA) and Susana Martinez (NM), have not challenged their states’ pro-freedom to marry court rulings. Federal judges issuing favorable opinions in Michigan, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania were appointed by Republican presidents. A majority of evangelical and Republican voters under 45 support the freedom to marry. 59% of Americans overall support marriage for same-sex couples.
It's clear: America is ready for marriage, and it's time for the nation's highest court to once again take up a case and finish the job, affirming what 22 consecutive court rulings have already declared: that the freedom to marry the person you love is a fundamental right.