One Year Since Windsor, One Year of Victories
One year ago, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor. The decision not only granted federal marriage recognition to millions of the couples throughout the country, but also a sparked a year of momentous marriage victories in the states.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Yesterday, just in time for this anniversary, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in Utah. As you may recall, a Utah district court judge issued a ruling striking down a ban on same-sex marriage back in December. Over a thousand couples rushed to the courts to be married, right before the Supreme Court issued a stay, pending appeal. This appellate court ruling is also stayed pending further action, which could be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Yesterday’s ruling in Utah holds particular significance in that it is the first time a federal appeals court has struck down a state’s ban.
Recent polling shows 59% of Americans support the marriages of same-sex couples. Currently, 44% of Americans live in states where gay couples share in the freedom to marry. Since the Windsor decision one year ago, 22 rulings have found state bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Moreover, let’s not forget that there are currently more than 70 cases pending in every single state in the country.
But, numbers and legal jargon aside, let’s consider for a second what these statistics and all these cases mean. They mean the difference between personal recognition and public recognition, the difference between a commitment ceremony and a wedding, the difference between the waiting room and the ICU.
We have come a long way in the one year since the Windsor decision, but we still have further to go. Same-sex couples throughout the country are still discriminated against and denied equal recognition under law. We envision a government which “to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance” (George Washington, in a letter to Moses Seixas, 1790). It is past time for same-sex marriage to be recognized and respected nationwide.