Today’s Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage saw the Court strike down a chunk of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) so that same-sex couples who are married by the definition of the law of their state WILL receive federal benefits granted to married couples. However, the same ruling reiterated that states have the authority when it comes to defining marriage. Of course, consistency doesn’t necessarily mean all that much for the Court but the ruling does at least seem to indicate that advocates of changing the definition of marriage should best pursue a Washington state-like course in persuading the people of their cause.
On their ruling dealing with California’s Prop 8, in which the people voted against the redefining of marriage, the Court ruled that the parties that appealed the case did not have standing (private parties brought the case because the state governor and A.G. refused to represent the law). This seemed like a cop-out and a slap at the will of the people and their ultimate authority to determine the laws under which they live (regardless of how you feel about this particular issue under consideration). The SCOTUS 5-4 ruling was a strange mix of conservative and liberal justices–one of the those rare cases in which it looks like someone put their names in a hat and randomly drew them out to make the ruling. It will have the effect of almost doubling the population of the United States under which same-sex marriage is the law of the land (18% to about 30%).
While gay activists have been enthusiastic about the rulings, locally, the Family Policy Institute of Washington believes it has found a silver lining as well, issuing the following statement from Joseph Backholm, their executive director:
“The Supreme Court got it wrong when it said that the state can tell the federal government how it must define marriage. The federal government, on behalf of those who elected them, should be able to recognize the unique value of relationships that provide children a mother and father.”
“However, those who want to redefine marriage suffered an important defeat today. The Supreme Court refused to declare a constitutional right to same-sex “marriage,” and rejected their request to impose a redefinition of marriage on all fifty states. This decision means that this important debate will continue state by state across the country.”
I don’t think “defeat” much less “important defeat” really applies in this case, but hey, I like to make room for disagreement.