The Marriage Equality Movement Is Getting Ready To Go Back To The Supreme Court
This article by Chris Geidner was originally published on January 23, 2014 in BuzzFeed. Read the full article here.
Evan Wolfson has never had a confidence problem. Even when many within the gay community opposed his focus on marriage rights as the key to unlocking equality in all realms of gay life, Wolfson stood his ground.
On Wednesday, more than 30 years after he made the case for same-sex couples’ marriage rights while a student at Harvard Law School, Wolfson’s confidence had become something more than that.
“It’s time to end this discrimination, and not only will history vindicate those who do the right thing, but the public is ready for it,” the founder and president of Freedom to Marry said Wednesday.
In dozens of interviews conducted over the past several years, Wolfson’s tone has approached bravado at times, his spirit has been that of someone who knew he was pushing the envelope but did so because he was certain he was right. Now, speaking with BuzzFeed on Wednesday, Wolfson sounded more like a person who knows he’s already won — and knows that others know it as well.
“We’re coming off of several extraordinary years of momentum and progress and accomplishment, and everyone can feel the momentum,” he said. “Every year, people think we can’t top it — and then we top it.”
Clearly, he has reason for his tone. In 2013 alone, marriage equality states doubled from nine on Jan. 1 to 18 on Dec. 31. In June, of course, the Supreme Court held that the federal ban on recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages — the Defense of Marriage Act — was unconstitutional.
That 18th state, Utah, was a surprise to many — including most of the roughly 1,300 same-sex couples who married there — but is now in a sort of limbo, since the Supreme Court halted any more marriages during the appeal of the federal trial court judge’s ruling striking down the state’s marriage amendment. Nonetheless, Utah was soon joined by Oklahoma this month, when another federal judge ruled another state’s marriage amendment unconstitutional.
Then, this week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that sexual orientation discrimination claims will receive “heightened scrutiny” within the circuit — a decision that would apply to a pending Nevada marriage case at the appeals court.
In a memorandum being distributed Thursday by the group Wolfson founded a little more than a decade ago, Freedom to Marry details “the Pathway to Winning Marriage Nationwide” in light of these and other recent developments.
“What we’re trying to do in the memo is underscore that, while there will be flash points, there will be things that aren’t 100% predictable — like, when a ruling comes where — the fact that there is this litigation is part of the strategy and part of the momentum and part of, though not the entirety of, the work that is needed — all of which is about setting the stage for a successful return to the Supreme Court,” he said.
The pathway, to put it simply, is a trip back to the Supreme Court.
The trip back is needed because of the second marriage-related case the court heard last year, the challenge to California’s Proposition 8. Although the justices’ decision allowed same-sex couples’ marriages in California to resume, Ted Olson’s aim of a 50-state ruling from his case challenging the 2008 initiative didn’t happen. Instead, the justices sent the case back on a decision about standing, or the right of a party to bring the appeal, that avoided a ruling on the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims.
Read the full article at BuzzFeed.