OpEd: Supreme Court Ruling Muddies and Mends the Marriage Waters

Oh, no. With the opportunity before it to declare same sex marriages universally legal in all fifty states, the Supreme Court on Monday 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!’

It’s also ironic that again I am writing yet another editorial in our gay community’s newspaper drawing more on my experience as a constitutional rights lawyer for 40 years than just a guy who wants to find a parking space in Wilton Manors.

Anyway, here we go. This week, 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. As to same sex marriages, this means it will now be immediately legal in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Another six will quickly follow.

No, not Florida, not yet- but soon, possibly. Hang in there.

The New York Times suggested that the courts are taking the approach they did on interracial marriage 50 years ago, just 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 Pam Bondis everywhere; still a few federal courts that have not spoken.

The good point 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 on Monday 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.  So are a lot of gay wedding planners. Just think, in Utah, you can not only get married, you can marry ten boyfriends at once.

Gay 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 should 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 even before the end of the year. Now it has been punted, potentially even to the fall of 2015. Relying on last year’s Windsor case, their attitude was probably, “hey you guys are already winning in case after case, enjoy the flow, and let it go.” I say no.

This newspaper sides with Evan Wolfson, the outstanding gay lawyer who now is the president of Freedom to Marry. He said on Monday, “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 righteousness.

Ultimately, worry not. We will get what we want, but not when we want and the way we wanted it. But now 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.

Finally, Pride South Florida made a statement too last night. We voted unanimously to hold the greatest gay wedding party in the history of America next year on Sunday, March 1 in the city of Fort Lauderdale. Just imagine, thousands of gay couples from all over the United States celebrating on a Fort Lauderdale beach at sunset. What a sight this could be, legally or symbolically.

Stay tuned to SFGN and the rest of the local gay and mainstream media for details. Maybe we will even ask Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler to preside. NOT!


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