Thursday, June 27, 2013

Observations from the Coffee Shop 6.27

Yesterday was a historic day, a word that doesn't quite do it justice but is true nonetheless. At the moment I can't seem to put in words how I felt at 10:01 AM when I saw this simple tweet; "@SCOTUSblog: DOMA is unconstitutional." Maybe in a couple days I can describe the day better but for now I'm not going to try.

As expected Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote The Supreme Court's decision that ruled DOMA unconstitutional. The official legal wording of the tweet is this; "DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment." You can read the full decision and the dissenting opinions here

Yesterday's other major decision for all practical purposes made same sex marriage once again legal in California. In the Prop 8 decision Chief Justice John Roberts said the "petitioners did not have standing to appeal the District Court’s order." That leaves the lower court ruling that Prop 8 violated both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution stand and re-instates equal marriage. You can read that SCOTUS opinion here and the original Ninth Circuit Court ruling here.

Yes it was quite a historic day. Finally this statement from President Obama who got the news on Air Force One as he flew to Africa:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 26, 2013

I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.  This was discrimination enshrined in law.  It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people.  The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it.  We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. 

This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better. 

So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital.  How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions.  Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.  

The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts:  when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

6/29 update - "At the President’s direction, the Department of Justice will work expeditiously with other Executive Branch agencies to implement the Court’s decision." From Attorney General Eric Holder's statement on the Wednesday's DOMA ruling. Read the full statement here.

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