Wednesday, June 26, 2013

We're at a very strange moment in civil rights history, thanks to SCOTUS (updated)

Thanks to SCOTUS over the last two days:

1) If you're a same-sex couple and live in CA, you can marry.

2) If you live in NC (or any other state with a "marriage protection amendment") and were legally married elsewhere (in my case, Canada), your marriage is not recognized in terms of filing joint state taxes (or anything else), I guess I can file jointly fed taxes and see what happens. (I asked this question on FB and below you'll see a legal response).

3) We can still be fired for being LGBT in most states, including NC.

What today means is that there will be beaucoup "full faith and credit" clause legal challenges flooding those state courts.

And, by the way, if you're a person of color, your right to vote is now twisting in the wind.


The above was posted as a status update on my Facebook wall and it generated a lot of good legal information, much of it from the fabulous Chris Stoll, Senior Staff Attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which has a great page with fact sheets up as well. One is: After DOMA: What it Means for You—The Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage.

The Supreme Court victory on June 26, 2013 in United States v. Windsor striking down the discriminatory federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) affirms that all loving and committed couples who are married deserve equal legal respect and treatment from the federal government. The demise of DOMA marks a turning point in how the United States government treats the relationships of married same-sex couples for federal programs that are linked to being married. At the same time, a turning point is part of a longer journey, not the end of the road. There is much work ahead before same-sex couples living across the nation can enjoy all the same protections as their different-sex counterparts.
Some of Chris's comments:

Chris: Married couples who live in states that do not respect their marriage should be eligible for some but not all federal benefits.

In states where a same-sex couple has a legal marriage but reside in a state with a marriage amendment, the answer is some of those 1000+ benefits may be available to them, but it depends on how the Obama Administration will implement new policies in each department and agency. Then I asked: There is a bit of confusion about recognition of legal international marriages vs USA marriages. Does the law treat these differently?

Chris: For the most part, there is no difference between international marriages and domestic marriages. Federal programs either determine marital status according to whether the state you live in recognizes your marriage (in which case you are out of luck if you live in NC, regardless of where you got married) or whether the marriage was valid in the state or country in which it was entered into (in which case you get benefits, no matter whether you got married in Canada, DC, NY, or anywhere else it is legal). But it depends on the rules of the specific federal benefit or program.


Summing it up -- Winners and Losers


  • California same-sex couples
  • Edie Windsor, thank god. Her reaction:

Everyone at the apartment of Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who argued Edith Windsor’s successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, exploded in screams and sobs when the ruling came down. Kaplan called her mother and said, “Total victory, Mom: it couldn’t be better.” Windsor said, “I wanna go to Stonewall right now!” Then she called a friend and said, “Please get married right away!”
  • Same-sex married couples in states where there is marriage equality
  • Binational couples -- now the foreign partner will be able to apply for a green card with his/her spouse as a sponsor.

  • Same-sex couples in states with marriage amendments: they will receive some fed benefits (to be determined), but no legal recognition inside their home state.
  • The religious right, haters, bible beaters and the homo-obsessed. They are already cracking up.
Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association believes the U.S. Supreme Court is 'doing to us what the Nazis did to the Jews' (via Good As You):

Via Little Green Footballs, Texas dumb-@ss Louis Gohmert is apoplectic, concluding that the ruling dooms civilization:

"In today’s episode, Texas wingnut par excellence Louie Gohmert says the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision is “against the laws of nature and nature’s God,” and now America’s really in for it. We’re talkin’ total collapse of civilization, people. It’s bad."

And Bam Bam Barber, you have to read his Twitter feed to believe it. He's foaming at the mouth.

There's a great essay up at Back2Stonewall by Sly Merritt that really sums up my feelings about the day:
"A part of me held back and tried to reconcile the tension I still felt with the historic moment in LGBT history. And I knew after a few moments what it was. “We are not finished yet. We haven’t even begun to fight.” Maybe that’s why my mood became muted. Because the Supreme Court did not rule completely in our favor as I’d hoped, even with how unlikely that outcome. It made me feel like an outsider because I was holding back on celebrating with passion so many of my friends were exuding.

And then I was angry. Angry at myself because despite the fact that it was not a sweeping victory it was all the same a monumental step forward so I felt this emotion was taking away from the joyous occasion that so many in this community are celebrating. It was giving me a migraine because that phrase kept coming to mind. So I laid down to calm my thoughts and asked why I felt this way. But my feelings were grounded in truth.
Is it because I know that in the remaining 37 states in this country, including my home state of Tennessee has a very long, hard battle ahead now that it is truly up to the states to decide the rights of millions of Americans. That the couples living here in the rural south that have worked their entire lives and entered long-term relationships for decades still do not have those federal rights that the New Colony states now have. Can still be denied the legal right to call the love of their life their husband or wife."

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