This has been a big legal week for the US. Our Supreme Court (that's the big daddy of our legal system) heard two cases that pertain to the rights of same-sex couples to marry. Prop 8, a law in California, bans same-sex couples from actually getting married. On Tuesday, the constitutionality of that proposition was argued before the court. The Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, was before the Supreme Court yesterday. DOMA, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, basically says that marriage is between one man and one woman and therefore denies federal benefits and programs to same-sex couples. These benefits include tax savings, family and medical leave, and Social Security payments. This case was brought to the court on behalf of an 83-year old woman who was forced to pay over $300,000 in estate taxes when her partner of 42 years died, simply because they were of the same sex and could not legally marry.
Well. You all (y'all) probably know how I feel about this. It simply baffles me that I have the legal right to marry based on who I fell in love with and other people don't. And truthfully, it's a bit more complicated than that. Neel's mother was Irish and his father is East Indian, so he's bi-racial. His parents' marriage, which took place in Pennsylvania in 1965, could have easily been impacted by Loving vs. Virginia. That's the Supreme Court Case that legalized interracial marriage. Pennsylvania, however, had already legalized interracial marriage, and was in fact the first state to do so. In 1780. The parallels between the current cases before the court and Loving vs. Virginia are fascinating. The Supreme Court decision in Loving vs. Virginia refers back to the 14th Amendment and its Equal Protection Clause. This clause says simply that "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Equal protection of the laws. Equal. Equality. We are not all the same, but we all deserve equality under the law.
I've talked to you about my friends Mark and Fred (my friend Fred from France) before. While we're watching this closely for so many friends (And by the way, I don't have "gay" friends, I have "friends."), we're watching the arguments on DOMA very closely because of Mark and Fred. On Tuesday, Mark posted this on his Facebook page:
Had money, lost money, had money, lost money, working on getting money.
And more mini-vans than you can shake a stick at.
If that's not a "marriage", I don't know what is.
Neel and I were joking with another friend that really, Fred and Mark do marriage better than we do: more kids, more houses, more minivans. They even go to church way more than we do. If you're going to deny someone rights, I'm not sure Neel and I should make the cut! However, because they are a same-sex couple, Fred's immigration status rests in the hands of the Supreme Court's repeal of DOMA and Mark and Fred's family rests in the hands in the repeal of DOMA. How can this be? How can what I take so for granted, the simple ins and outs of daily family life, become a matter of legislation for someone simply because of who he happened to fall in love with? Where would we be if Neel's parent's couldn't have married?
I believe in love. I believe in marriage. I will always, always fall down on the side of more, not fewer, rights for our citizens. If the family is the bedrock of our society, how can we deny anyone who chooses to come together and create one, no matter how, the basic right to do so?
All you need is love.