The rulings in the two marriage equality cases came down very much like I expected, though with an unpredictable lineup in one of them. In United States v Windsor, the DOMA case, the court ruled 5-4 that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional and that the federal government must grant full recognition to all same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal. You can read that full ruling here. Kennedy wrote the opinion, joined by the four liberal justices on the court (Breyer, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Kagan).
In Hollingsworth v Perry, the court ruled, also 5-4, that the petitioners (the party that appealed the case, which is the group that first proposed Prop 8) lacked standing to bring the appeal. I know, that’s really technical. So what does it actually mean? It appears to mean that the U.S. District Court ruling, which struck down Prop 8, stands and the government of California is enjoined from enforcing Prop 8 — which means same-sex marriage is now legal again in California. The lineup in this case is quite odd. The ruling was written by Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Scalia, Breyer, Kagan and Ginsburg. Sotomayor joined Alito, Kennedy and Thomas in dissent. Very strange lineup, but with two of the most conservative justices in the majority. You can read that full ruling here.
I’ll have a lot more on the fascinating details of both cases once I’ve had a chance to read through the rulings and the analysis of the experts throughout the day. But the bottom line is a victory for equality in both cases. We didn’t get everything we wanted — a broad equal protection argument or an explicit declaration that cases involving sexual orientation require heightened scrutiny (though there is some hint of the latter in the DOMA case) — but we got the right result. I don’t like the standing ruling in the Prop 8 case as a means of getting there (I generally loathe the court’s restrictive and artificial standing doctrine), but I can’t change that and I still like the result.
On Facebook, I originally said that the best part of this is, “Tony Perkins, Matt Barber, Joseph Farah and all the other bigoted assholes having their heads explode right now.” But I was wrong. The best part of this is the advancement of equality, however incremental. But that’s a nice side order of schadenfreude with some whipped cream on top.
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