The national coming out party for same-sex marriage?


With snow in Washington, the “Deck the Halls” phrase, “Don we now our gay apparel,” comes to mind.

It’s 2013 and already we’ve seen a former detractor, GOP Senator Rob Portman, persuaded to come out for same-sex marriage in support of his gay son. We’ve even heard Republican political strategist Karl Rove imply the party could put the ‘gay’ in GOP by the next presidential election cycle.

Talk about coming in from out in the cold. It’s so “in” these days to be gay politically, fence-sitting is definitely out.

So now we have former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a video in support of same-sex marriage, and her hubby, the former President Bill Clinton, publicly regretting that he signed the Defense of Marriage Act. And even President Obama, a notorious fence-sitter, is saying DOMA is unconstitutional.

It all makes the Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of same-sex bans this week intriguing, because as the political opposition to same-sex marriage is falling apart, SCOTUS may not feel compelled to step in so boldly right now.

Of course, there’s always a fear that Antonin Scalia will wake up on the wrong side of bed. But the sense is the court will not want to define an evolving issue any more than it has to.

Still, it’s Holy Week, and so the biblical standard of Solomon will likely apply in the ultimate rulings by the court’s recess in June. By then, they’ll probably decide to cut the baby in half. The question is, where is the dividing line?

On the California marriage ban, Prop 8, I’d say SCOTUS is likely to let stand the lower court’s ruling that the state by a majority vote had no right to take away same-sex marriage once it was upheld by the California Supreme Court.

Ruling in that way would restore same-sex marriages in California, but not apply to any other state.

On the federal Defense of Marriage Act, SCOTUS will likely strike it down as unconstitutional (since both plaintiff and the Obama administration agree) and allow federal laws to be applied in the nine states where same-sex unions are legal (Maine, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, Iowa, and DC). Great. It’s a big deal when you consider the estimated one million LGBT immigrants who are either documented or undocumented and have been prevented from becoming U.S. citizens through marriage.

On the other hand, that court action won’t change anything in 38 states where same-sex marriage bans exist. SCOTUS will likely wait for the states and politicians to figure it out, or for another case to bubble up.

A prudent course, perhaps. But why wait if America has already accepted the Bravo Channel as a part of life?

A look at public opinion polls shows how quickly the world is changing.

In the Washington Post/ABC poll, 58 percent of Americans now believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married; 36 percent say it should be illegal. Ten years ago, it was just the opposite.

A majority of Americans no longer think it’s cool to discriminate on marriage.

Surely, Asian American sensitivities to discrimination based on marriage were formed with early immigrants, mostly male laborers who were then prevented by law from inter-marriage with other races.

That racist law impacted my life. Now anti-marriage laws continue to impact my family with these same-sex bans.

When the political forces were against me, I wrote about it in 2003 on the occasion of my cousin Pauline’s wedding.

I wrote about it again in 2008, when a ballot measure put her civil rights up to a vote.

All these years later, Prop 8 still doesn’t make sense in California. And neither does DOMA.

But now the political winds are changing in favor of equal rights, and perhaps starting with the hearings this week, the Supreme Court will see fit to begin to seal the deal.

Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
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The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.
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