Judging from the justices’ comments in Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing on same-sex marriage, the court may end up deciding that the decisions lies with the states. My colleague Bruce Ramsey made the same argument in his Wednesday column: Legalizing same-sex marriage should remain a state’s right.
People will always try to arrest major change with the argument, “It’s too soon.” Patience is a luxury for the privileged.
To lesbian and gay couples, another day of being told they can’t marry is another day of being told they don’t count. It’s like telling someone getting slapped in the face to just be patient and turn the other cheek, then the other, then the other, then the other.
It falls upon those in power to grant equal rights to a marginalized minority.
On Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, justices appeared to lean towards repealing DOMA and granting legally recognized same-sex marriages federal benefits, according to an AP news report.
The more significant ruling is on California’s Proposition 8, where the Supreme Court could decide to federally legalize same-sex marriage.
In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that laws barring interracial marriage were unconstitutional with Loving v. Virginia. Washington state was decades ahead of the rest of the country decades on resisting attempts to pass anti-miscegenation laws. In 1935, House Bill 301 was proposed to ban interracial marriage and the bill was defeated in the state Legislature. A similar anti-miscegenation bill was proposed in 1937 and failed to pass. (Check out our October guest column on the state’s history of anti-miscegenation laws by Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney and Martha Choe.)
While Washington’s leadership in the ’30s was significant, the key turning point was the Supreme Court’s decision.
When I lived in California, the publisher of the magazine where I landed my first job was multiracial. Her parents went to Washington state to marry because it was illegal for them to marry in California.
If the Supreme Court had not ruled in 1967, anti-miscegenation laws probably would have remained in many states for decades.
It should feel difficult for the Supreme Court justices to rule on this. If it were easy, then it would not constitute real change.
The court’s decision in 1967 was not made easily either.
same-sex marriage | Topics: