I couldn’t sleep last night. I tossed and turned and rolled about, as wide awake as ever. I considered getting up to get a drink. To watch the news. To play around on a design app my sister recommended, but I vowed to be in bed, and I wanted to keep to that goal. And at long last, sometime in the middle of the night, sleep overtook me.
This morning, around six, I began breaking from these binds in small bursts, wanting to sleep more but unable to coerce my mind into crumbling. Finally at nine I jumped from my bed, opened the SCOTUS blog for livefeed of the day’s events, and began my cardio workout.
It didn’t do much, though; my heart was already racing.
After working out in silence with one eye on my computer screen for updates, I rushed through my shower, and back in my room I played some music to get me through the last minutes. Bathed in silence a second time I sat at my computer, staring down the screen, shaking as though I were the one on trial.
I was expecting the least-known case to come first–one Sekhar vs. the US–but instead they jumped right into it: DOMA. And the first words I saw were 5-4 and unconstitutional.
Before you start celebrating (although celebration is in order), there’s a few important caveats to recall: First, this only applies to same-sex couples already legally married in states that allow same-sex marriage–this does not extend same-sex marriage to other states, not at all. Further, DOMA as a whole has not been repealed–only Section 3 has been struck down. Section 2, which says one states does not legally need to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, still stands, and DOMA won’t be defeated until this provision’s rule is ended.
In my opinion, once Section 2 is struck down or repealed, same-sex marriage will practically be legalized across the country, since if you’re in a state where you can’t get married, you need only get married elsewhere and return for your marriage to be valid. Which is precisely why Section 2 was not under question at this time.
So, yes, this is a great victory, but it won’t be the last to win full marriage rights in the United States.
When it comes to the Prop 8 case, things becomes a little messier. Or a lot messier. The Supreme Court claims no jurisdiction, but didn’t stop there, saying that since the defendants of Prop 8 were not state-appointed by California, the Ninth Circuit ruling must be vacated and remanded–a fancy way of saying it’s now invalid because the case never should’ve been tried there in the first place.
I believe, although I’m not entirely certain, that this means the effective ruling is the first–that of Perry v. Schwarzenegger in the district court–which struck down Prop 8 as unconstitutional based upon the Equal Protections Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Therefore, Prop 8 is officially defeated–at least, if nothing else, it cannot be enforced by the state, even if it remains in the state constitution.
Like I said, it’s messier, and I’m not sure I follow it all completely, but from what I’ve read and what I’ve been told on the SCOTUS blog, this certainly seems to be the case.
All in all, a second victory is among us–but this was a victory won more than two years ago when the original decision was given. It’ll take some time before we know for certain where things will go from here, but from where I sit, things are starting to look up.
It’s still a long mountain to climb, but we’re closer to the top than ever before.