Norm Kent

Supreme Court Muddies & Mends the Waters

Filed By Norm Kent | November 01, 2014 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: gay marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, Supreme Court

supreme-court-side-view.jpgOh, no. With the opportunity before it to declare same-sex marriages universally legal in all 50 states, early last month the Supreme Court instead punted the issue back to each state individually.

That's good, because so many rulings have gone our way. That's bad, because, you never know, some jerk of a federal judge might not go our way.

I am left feeling like Homer Simpson, screaming 'Argggh!'

Anyway, here we go. In October the Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Federal courts in those states had already ruled gay marriages were legal, and with the high court saying they were not going to overturn those rulings, gay and lesbian couples started getting married in those states within hours. These courts have controlling jurisdiction in six other states as well, all which had banned gay marriage.

There is a ripple to every Supreme Court ruling. For same-sex marriages, this meant it was immediately legal in 24 states and the District of Columbia with another six quickly following. Eric Holder, the outgoing attorney general of the US, is not going to intervene; in fact, he took positions supporting us.

The New York Times suggested that the courts are taking the approach they did on interracial marriage 50 years ago - sitting back and waiting until almost every state allowed interracial rulings and then finally saying it was a constitutional right. In other words, the court will apply the hammer after the nail is already knocked into the plank.

That's frustrating. None of us want to wait. There are people like Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi everywhere - and still a few federal courts that have not spoken.

The good news for our side is there has been an unprecedented string of victories in court for same-sex couples, even in Florida, and the Supreme Court effectively said with its ruling that those decisions are binding, controlling and the law. Legally, that means you can now get bound, married and controlled by your spouse.

Seriously, though, gay marriage is like that cannabis joint you just smoked after dinner. It's burning faster than courts can keep up with it. Popular opinion, public polling, and history are on our side. So are a lot of gay wedding planners. Just think, soon in Utah, you'll not only be able to get gay married, you'll be able marry ten boyfriends at once. Badumching!

Same-sex marriage is here to stay, so much so that nearly two thirds of same-sex couples in the United States will soon live in states where they can marry legally. We are on an irreversible path.

Unfortunately, at least until their cases get into court, a third of our population remains out of the legal loop. However, other appeals courts will rule soon. My guess is that we are looking at as many as 35 states allowing same sex marriage by the end of the year. But that explains why I disagree with what the Supreme Court did. I don't think your constitutional right to marry shouldn't depend on your zip code, or when a judge gets around to hearing your case.

The Supremes disappointed me. I was actually hoping they would take this case in early October and expedite it; maybe decide the issue before the end of the year. Now it has been punted, potentially to the fall of 2015. Relying on last year's Windsor case, their attitude seemed to be, "Hey you guys are already winning in case after case, enjoy the flow, and let it go." I say no.

Evan Wolfson, the outstanding gay lawyer who is the president of Freedom to Marry, made the best case against the Supremes: "The court's delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places."

If I want to be treated with indignity and abuse, demeaned and disgraced, I can just go hang out with my best friends or go home to my partner. I don't need to be flogged by the Supreme Court. By not ruling when they had a chance to, the court fled from the chance to make history in a good way.

They ran away from it. They are taking the dirt road instead of the paved highway.

Ultimately, worry not. We will get what we want, but not when we want and the way we want it. At least we also won't have to wait for the last Tuesday in June of 2015 for the Supreme Court to decide. A lot of people should be registering at Neiman Marcus this week. By next Spring, we all should be good to go.

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