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
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
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
about it in 2003 on the occasion of my cousin Pauline’s wedding.
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.