What's next?

For nationwide gay marriage, more battles ahead
Associated Press
Jun 26, 2013

Even as they celebrate a momentous legal victory, supporters of gay marriage already are anticipating a return trip to the Supreme Court in a few years, sensing that no other option but a broader court ruling will legalize same-sex unions in all 50 states.

In the meantime, as one gay-rights leader said, there will be "two Americas" — and a host of legal complications for many gay couples moving between them.

Wednesday's twin rulings from the high court will extend federal recognition to same-sex marriages in the states where they are legal, and will add California — the most populous state — to the 12 others in that category. That will mean about 30 percent of Americans live in states recognizing same-sex marriage.

But the court's rulings have no direct effect on the constitutional amendments in 29 states that limit marriage to heterosexual couples. In a handful of politically moderate states such as Oregon, Nevada and Colorado those amendments could be overturned by ballot measures, but that's considered highly unlikely in more conservative states.

"It would be inefficient to try to pick off 30 constitutional amendments one by one," said Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group. "Eventually this will have to be settled by the Supreme Court."

The Human Rights Campaign's president, Chad Griffin, told supporters outside the Supreme Court building that the goal would be to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide within five years.

To sway the justices in such a time frame, activists plan a multipronged strategy. In addition to possible ballot measures in a few states, they hope lawmakers will legalize same-sex marriage in states which now offer civil unions to gay couples, notably New Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii.

There also will be advocacy efforts in more conservative states, ranging from expansion of anti-discrimination laws to possible litigation on behalf of sex-couples there who are denied state recognition even though they married legally in some other jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court's decisions "underscore the emergence of two Americas," Griffin said. "In one, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) citizens are nearing full equality. In the other, our community lacks even the most basic protections."

Jonathan Rauch, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, suggested that efforts to end that division would not be easy, given that many states have electorates that seem solidly opposed to gay marriage.

"The fight is far from over," Rauch wrote in a commentary. "By refusing to override those majorities, the court green-lighted the continuation, probably for a decade or more, of state-by-state battles over marriage."

In Florida, where voters approved a ban on gay marriage with 62 percent support in 2008, the gay-rights group Equality Florida called on its supporters to "get engaged and fight" for recognition of same-sex marriage.

The high court rulings "are a major step forward for the country, but for Floridians they fall far short of justice," said the group's executive director, Nadine Smith. "The Supreme Court has said we can go states like Minnesota or Iowa and get married, but we return to Florida legal strangers in our home state."

Florida State Rep. Joe Saunders, a Democrat from Orlando and one of the state's first openly gay lawmakers, said "every strategy is on the table" as activists ponder ways to eliminate the 2008 ban, including warnings of economic consequences.

"If 13 other states provide protections to gay and lesbian families, what does that mean for our ability to keep those families here in Florida?" he said. "Until we can promise them the same basic protections, we're going to be economically disadvantaged."

Increasingly, political swing states like Florida, as well as more solidly Republican states, could become gay-marriage battlegrounds.

One example of the forthcoming strategy: The American Civil Liberties Union announced Wednesday that it has hired Steve Schmidt, former communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee and adviser to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to build support among GOP state politicians for striking down gay-marriage bans.

"For a full civil liberties victory, we need broad-based support from coast to coast," the ACLU's executive director, Anthony Romero, said.

On the conservative side, there was deep dismay over the Supreme Court rulings, but little indication of any new strategies or initiatives.

"The debate over marriage has only just begun," said Austin Nimocks, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which staunchly opposes same-sex marriage, called upon Americans "to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life."

Lee Badgett, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, predicted that the ruling on federal recognition would prompt thousands of gay couples to get married, now that there were additional financial incentives to so.

This group could include couples in states which don't recognize same-sex marriage but who are willing to travel to a state that does recognize such unions.

However, Rea Carey of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said many gay couples either would be hard pressed to afford such trips or would forgo them out of principle.

"Many people in this country, straight or gay, want to get married in their own state, their own backyard," she said.

While gay-rights activists pursue their ultimate goal of nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage, the short-term legal situation for many gay couples could be complicated.

Peter Sprigg of the conservative Family Research Council said the court ruling on federal recognition "raises as many questions as it answers."

"Will recognition be based on the law in the state where the marriage was celebrated or the state in which the couple resides?" he said. "The doors may now be wide open for whole new rounds of litigation."

The National Conference of State Legislatures said the situation was clear for married gay couples in the 13 states recognizing same-sex marriage: They will be eligible for all federal marriage benefits.

"Outside of these states, federal marriage benefits become more complicated, as many commonly thought-of federal benefits, such as jointly filing on federal income taxes, are tied to a married couple's place of residence," the conference said.

Gay-rights activists immediately began lobbying the Obama administration and other federal officials to extend as many benefits as possible on the basis of where a gay couple's wedding took place, not on the state where they live.

"The Obama administration can make clear, through regulation, that the federal government will recognize those marriages and not participate in state-sponsored discrimination," said Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Columbia Law School.

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, one of the groups most active in building support for same-sex marriage, urged the administration to adopt a "clear and consistent" standard that would apply equally to all married gay couples, regardless of their state of residence.

"Marriage should not flutter in and out like cellphone service," he said. "When it comes to federal programs, even if states are discriminating, the federal government should not."

Wolfson, like many of his allies, was already looking ahead to another rendezvous with the Supreme Court, confident that public support for same-sex marriage would continue to increase.

"We have the winning strategy," he said. "We win more states, we win more hearts and minds, and we go back to the Supreme Court in a matter of years, not decades, to win the freedom to marry nationwide."

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Follow David Crary on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/craryap

 

Comments

The Big Dog's back

You don't have statistics either winnie.

Contango

DERP!

Contango

Speaking of hypocritical, rich, arrogant, liberal, thieving SOBs; here's one guy whose ruin I wholly applaud:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100803569

registerer

It is interesting to note that Rob Portman was interviewed yesterday regarding this and he said "the people should decide this not the courts". Hey, Rob, tell that to the SCOTUS! The voters of California said NO to gays getting married but that didn't stop them from exercising their personal agendas to make their names lasting in the history books.

Contango

Like SCOTUS backing the ObamaCare "tax," this ruling is based on an (estate) TAX argument.

This is a states' rights issue.

If it was to be the "law of the land," the Constitution provides a method by way of using Amendments.

The fat cat professional politicians in Congress are once again allowing another branch of govt. to do it's work.

The Big Dog's back

But it was OK for DOMA to be the "law of the land".

Contango

Nope.

SamAdams

The problem isn't marriage. The PROBLEM is the government's insistence on being involved in marriage.

Churches don't have to treat people equally. You can excommunicate, shun, counsel, etc. those who don't follow church teachings. If one religion or another does or does not consider gay marriage acceptable, how is that directly the business of anybody else?

The government, on the other hand, is SUPPOSED to offer equal protection under the law. The government isn't supposed to give preference OR discriminate. Right now, marriage laws DO discriminate, and not just against homosexuals.

I agree with Hero Zone. I've been saying the same thing for years: If the government recognizes a legal CONTRACT between two people (for inheritance, medical decision-making, etc. purposes), and leaves marriage where it belongs (in religion), none of these things would be an issue.

DOMA was inherently discriminatory, and SHOULD have been struck down. That's true whether I personally think gay marriage is morally or culturally acceptable or not.

P.S. A comment that got a lot of traction on Twitter yesterday suggested a Constitutional amendment concerning marriage. My response? We've already got one. It's called the First Amendment, and it guarantees freedom of religion. So how about we honor THAT one instead of trying to "fix" still more things that aren't really broken?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

There's a few other amendments that need to be added, however!

SamAdams

No, no, no. FEWER laws, not MORE of them! The ONLY new Constitutional Amendment I'd support is the one that repeated all of 'em back to the Bill of Rights. If politicians had honored the first ten, there wouldn't have been a need for any more, not even the 14th.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

If they can all be done in one, that's fine, but many of them need to be updated or let go. For a few examples, term limits on Reps/Senators, a replacement of the income tax with a sales tax, non-automatic U.S. citizenship on birth (if states wish to confer state citizenship then let them as we are all actually dual-citizens) if from foreign parents, and the states' legislatures electing senators instead of the general population.

The Big Dog's back

Really? Boo hiss.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Which point(s) do you disagree with, Big Dog? Asked with curiosity, not enmity.

The Big Dog's back

2,3 and 4.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I am glad we both initially agree on point one, that is a major issue. What are your reservations about the others? Why shouldn't Congress have a house of the people and a house of the states, for example. Or if you want to address the other ones that is fine too.

Free Man

pOOp !

There you go again

The title says it all...

Truth or Dare

Looks like Boehner is doing his best at biting his tongue as to not say anything ignorant, or go off on the Supreme Court Justices. Way I see it, Clinton had a lot of nerve signing DOMA into effect, as we witnessed first hand pretty much what his heterosexual marriage vows meant to him, eh?! It didn't take much, just a raven haired, doe-eyed intern to set up his behind, and now good ole Monica is making $$$$ off of auctioning off personal possessions. Really?!

Anyone here listen to the Supreme Court and the arguments for and against given? I find it rather sad that an argument used against such unions, the argument for "more time to study the effects on the children of gays, be they biological or adopted" is reduced to being referred to as an "experiment".

I am a Christian, a married "heterosexual", yet a firm supporter of the Separation of Church and State. At least the Supreme Court sees that, as they themselves deemed it illegal for the Federal Govt. to establish laws that are discriminatory in the sense that it protects them from paying out any benefits. Let all of the thousands of tax exempt Churches decide for themselves what they will recognize and perform. At the same time, should they continue to use their pulpits and their millions of $$$$'s to lobby on Capitol Hill to put such discriminatory laws into effect, it's well beyond the time their tax-exempt status be revoked!

Contango

Re: "...it's well beyond the time their tax-exempt status be revoked!"

End the intrusive 16th Amendment and it's entanglements and you're there!

be for real

nasty

44846GWP

Brush your teeth then.

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