WASHINGTON: The Supreme Court Wednesday struck down as unconstitutional the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in the states where they reside.
The court said it violated equal protection to provide benefits to heterosexual couples while denying them to gay couples in the 12 states plus the District of Columbia where same-sex couples may marry.
The law passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton recognized marriage as only between one man and one woman.
“Critics of same-sex marriage have had their straw arguments debunked repeatedly,” Comment is Free assistant editor Heather Long wrote last week in anticipation of the supreme court rulings:
They tried to assert that allowing homosexuals to marry would somehow ruin marriages. In fact, states that acted early to allow marriage equality actually have lower divorce rates. Lately, American conservative groups – and the lawyers trying to defend Prop 8 before the supreme court – have taken to asserting that gay and lesbian couples can’t procreate and therefore aren’t good parents. In reality, alarge-scale study from the University of Melbourne published earlier this month finds that children in same-sex couple households are doing as well as, if not better than their straight-parented peers on a range of indicators, from health to family cohesion.
Regardless of how the supreme court justices rule, it is only a matter of time before this issue is rightly laid to rest both in law and in the court of public opinion. Americans now support gay marriage by 51% to 42%, according to the latest Pew Research poll, and that margin is only going in one direction.
The plaza outside the supreme court is swarmed. Signs distributed from the human rights campaign, American foundation for equal rights, people for an American way, and other interests groups are held up in force. There’s even a PETA sign calling for animal rights next.
The Brokaws, a couple from “a cornfield” in Michigan, are here with 23 students as part of a statewide political education group. The students were supposed to stay in Arlington for the day but wouldn’t accept missing this.
“Kids nowadays don’t have a problem with equal rights – with human rights,” they say. “it’s not an issue to them.”