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Friday, December 7, 2012

AFJ's Nan Aron on today's Supreme Court actions on DOMA and Prop. 8

Supreme Court can bend the arc of history toward justice

WASHINGTON, D.C.,  Dec. 7, 2012: — Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron issued the following statement concerning the Supreme Court’s decision Friday to hear cases on the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and on California’s Proposition 8.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear a group of cases in which the stakes could not be higher.  If the Court strikes down Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), it will make millions of legally-married same-sex couples truly equal in the eyes of the federal government.  It will do the same for same-sex couples who want to marry in the future.

A ruling against Section 3 would send an important message: The nation’s highest court refuses to countenance discrimination.  But it also would have immediate, concrete benefits.

            A ruling against Section 3 will ensure married same-sex couples enjoy equal access to a huge range of benefits that the rest of us take for granted.  DOMA denies Social Security death benefits, spousal disability benefits and survivor benefits to same-sex spouses.  DOMA prevents same-sex spouses from taking family medical leave.  DOMA even can separate spouses of different nationalities. 

The stakes are every bit as high in the case involving California’s Proposition 8.  If the Supreme Court upholds the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, it will restore the right to marry for same-sex couples in California and, perhaps, send an important signal to the rest of the nation.  It would be a decision for family values in the truest sense of the term.

                The last time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on who can get married, it bent the arc of history toward justice, ruling that banning interracial marriage is unconstitutional.  Now the Court has the opportunity to bend the arc of history toward justice again, by ruling Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional. 

                In 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that, “scarcely any political question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question.”  In a nation in which not just political, but the most fundamental human questions can become judicial questions, today’s actions highlight once again the critical importance to American life of who sits on the United States Supreme Court.

1 comment:

Prof. David B. Cruz said...

While I appreciate the sentiments of this post, "[t]he last time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on who can get married," it did not "rul[e] that banning interracial marriage is unconstitutional." That was Loving v. Virginia in 1967. 20 years later, the Court ruled in Turner v. Safley that prisoners can get married, striking down a prison policy barring inmate marriages without permission of the superintendent of prisons (to be granted only if there were "compelling" reasons).