Saturday, April 26, 2014

Things change quickly

It’s becoming almost impossible to keep up with the pace of change on marriage equality in the USA. Yesterday, the graphic at the top of this post was accurate. Today, it’s already less so.

The graphic comes from Americans for Marriage Equality, part of the Human Rights Campaign, and was published on their site’s page, “Marriage in the Courts”. It has other interesting infographics, and the status of various court challenges to marriage equality bans. The site notes:
Since the Supreme Court ruled in Perry and Windsor, not a single state marriage ban has survived a federal court challenge. These rulings on the merits in the marriage cases have occurred in three state courts and nine federal district courts since the Supreme Court’s decision last June. [emphasis in the original]
This weekend, a lesbian couple from South Dakota will be married in Minneapolis by the city’s mayor, Betsy Hodges:
The couple, Nancy Robrahn, 68, and Jennie Rosenkranz, 72, say that along with two other gay South Dakota couples, they plan on filing a federal class-action lawsuit against state officials.

Robrahn and Rosenkranz will argue that South Dakota should recognize same-sex marriages when performed outside of the state. In addition, the suit will seek to overturn South Dakota's statewide same-sex marriage ban enacted by a constitutional amendment in 2006.
Also, the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled, according to the ACLU, that the state’s “property tax exemption violates equal protection because it treats unmarried same-sex couples differently from married heterosexual couples, even though they are similarly situated with respect to the purposes of the program.” It seems to me that this strengthens the inevitable challenge to Alaska’s marriage equality ban itself.

So, the graphic that was completely up to date earlier this week is on the verge of becoming out of date. The pace of change on marriage equality in the USA is very fast.

Could their be trouble lurking silently in the background? Writing on Truthdig, Bill Blum says that the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action poses a threat to marriage equality. This is largely because some of the rulings struck down state voter referenda, and the Schuette decision held referenda in high regard.

However, it’s important to note that the legal tests applied by lower courts could also be used by the Supreme Court to uphold those rulings, particularly because such voter bans of marriage equality (and their continued defense) have been motivated by anti-gay animus.

No matter what happens, though, this fight won’t be over any time soon. We have determined and extremely well-financed adversaries who are approaching this not as a matter of politics, but as a quasi-religious crusade. They’re not about to give up, even if their more secular rightwing comrades see the writing on the wall.

This means that if we do have a set-back at the Supreme Court, our adversaries will be ready to seize the opportunity presented to them. Even so, given how much has changed already, and how much more will have changed by then, the best our adversaries could do is slightly slow down the march toward the inevitable: 50-state marriage equality. But that delay would also mean a continuation of their often ugly and vile campaigns against LGBT people.

This is why it’s so important to keep moving forward, to keep fundraising and organising until the final victory is won. However, it’s also important to not let this fight be our only issue, because ending discrimination and violence against LGBT people is arguably more important to more people than marriage equality alone, important as that is.

In any case, it’s becoming almost impossible to keep up with the pace of change on marriage equality in the USA. Despite all the uncertainties and possible vulnerabilities, that’s not going to change.

No comments: