Reactions to the Supreme Court rulings on marriage

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on California’s Proposition 8, the voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marrying in that state, and the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, which for federal purposes defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The high court, in the rulings released today (June 26) said there was a lack of standing for the Prop 8 case to be decided at the appeals court or the Supreme Court levels. This means that same-sex couples can begin to marry again in California, because the trial court overturned Prop 8.

In DOMA, the court struck down the federal government’s refusal to recognize legal same-sex marriages.

The following are reactions to the court’s decisions:

Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the first and only openly LGBT member of the U.S. Senate: “The nation’s highest court reaffirmed our founding belief that all Americans are created equal under the law. The court made a strong statement for equality and freedom, overturning discrimination against gay and lesbian American citizens simply because of who they love.”

Mark Pocan, D-Wis., the only married gay member of the U.S. House: “I am overjoyed that the Supreme Court has come down on the side of equality, justice and love by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. No more will thousands of loving gay and lesbian couples see their marriage ignored by the federal government, leaving them without the protections opposite-sex married couples enjoy. With 93 million Americans now living in states that recognize same-sex marriages, and 58 percent of the country in favor of marriage equality, we now have the public, the courts and the Constitution on our side.”

Katie Belanger, executive director of Fair Wisconsin, a state LGBT civil rights group: “This is an enormous victory and a joyous day for loving, married couples and their families – and for equal justice under the law.  Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that all loving and committed couples who marry deserve equal legal respect and treatment.”

Jason Burns, outgoing executive director of Equality Wisconsin, a state LGBT civil rights group: “This is another victory for the LGBT Community that has seen unprecedented gains in acceptance over the last several months. While we appear to be heading in the right direction, it is important to know that currently we don’t know exactly what this means for LGBT Wisconsinites, especially given our constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, “Today’s historic decisions put two giant cracks in the dark wall of discrimination that separates committed gay and lesbian couples from full equality. While we celebrate the victory for Californians today, tomorrow we turn our attention to the millions of LGBT people who don’t feel the reach of these decisions. From the Rocky Mountains to the heart of the South, it’s time to push equality forward until every American can marry the person they love and all LGBT people are guaranteed equal protection under the law.”

Evan Wolfson, president and founder of Freedom to Marry, an LGBT civil rights group: “No question about it, today’s decisions add to the momentum for marriage.”

Chuck Wolfe, CEO of the Victory Fund, which works to elect openly LGBT lawmakers, “Now we must begin to change the hearts and minds of voters, lawmakers and political leaders in the 38 states that still forbid gays and lesbians to marry. That will take the work of the fantastic coalitions that have seen much success in recent years, and it will require electing more LGBT people to change legislatures from the inside.”

Steven Levinson, board member of Hawaii United for Marriage: “Now that DOMA has been struck down, all married couples living in the 12 states and the District of Columbia that recognize marriages for same-sex couples will be included in the federal safety net. What does this mean in Hawaii? Not much – because Hawaii does not recognize marriage equality.”

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality: “While we had hoped for a more expansive ruling that would immediately affect the legal status of couples here in Georgia, this is an important step towards the full legal recognition of our relationship. We can celebrate for our colleagues and loved ones in California and the twelve other states affected by this ruling today. Tomorrow we begin the process of building a movement to recognize our own marriages here in Georgia.” 

Betsy Smith, executive director of Equality Maine, a state LGBT civil rights group: “The repeal of DOMA wouldn’t impact so many Mainers so directly had we not won the freedom to marry here last year. For that victory – and your support that made it possible – we will be forever grateful.”

Nadine Smith, executive director, Equality Florida, an LGBT civil rights group: “Today’s rulings are a major step forward for the country, but for Floridians they fall far short of justice and are more than anything a call to action.

“For those of us who live in state’s like Florida where our marriages are still not recognized, today’s rulings are a reminder that we cannot wait for justice to be handed to us, we are going to have to get engaged and fight.

“A majority of Floridians support the freedom to marry, and this is our moment to stand up and get engaged on the right side of history.”

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, an LGBT civil rights group: “The Supreme Court today affirmed America’s promise of equality by ruling that the federal government cannot ignore constitutional principles when it comes to gay and lesbian couples and their marriages, and it is a moment to celebrate.  But today’s historic victory overturning the Defense of Marriage Act is bittersweet in the states like Illinois where couples are still denied the right and recognition of marriage.”

Fergus Tuohy, chair of Equality Alabama, an LGBT civil rights group: “The fact remains that there is still much work to be done. As long as LGBT youth face bullying in schools and LGBT workers fear job loss simply because of who they love, we will continue to stand up for them. Equality Alabama will continue our work until all of our LGBT bothers and sisters truly have equal protection under the law.”

Wilson Cruz, spokesperson for GLAAD, an LGBT civil rights group: “Fairness has finally been restored in California. A majority of Americans, and now the highest court in the land, agree that it’s wrong to strip loving and committed gay and lesbian couples of the fundamental opportunity to marry the person you love. Today, we stand in solidarity with millions of Californians, who can finally say ‘I do’ to the person they love.”

Cathy Marino-Thomas, co-president of Marriage Equality USA, an LGBT civil rights group: “My wife Sheila, our daughter Jacqueline, and I are overjoyed that we will now have full federal protections for our family, just as any other married family does.”

Allyson Robinson, executive director of OutServeSLDN, which represents LGBT servicemembers: “This victory is especially sweet for our nation’s lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members, who can now not only serve openly, but can serve knowing that their loving, committed, and legal marriages will be recognized by the military they serve and the nation they protect.”

Zach Wahls, of Outspoken Genration: “This is an incredible victory for families like mine. Children of LGBT parents deserve to have our voices heard, and today we know that we were. The Supreme Court has finally recognized that our parents and our families deserve to be treated with dignity and respect under the law.”

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland: “Today is an enormous victory and a joyous day for same-sex married couples and their families – and for equal justice under the law. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that all loving and committed couples who marry deserve equal legal respect and treatment.”

Troy Stevenson of Garden State Equality, an LGBT civil rights group in New Jersey: “The decisions do not extend marriage equality to New Jersey, and New Jersey’s couples in civil unions will continue to be shut out of federal marriage rights even as our brothers and sisters in Connecticut, Delaware, New York and elsewhere have achieved full equality. The fight must go on, and we will continue to fight it until we win.”

Equal Rights Washington: “The Court’s ruling today reflects what the majority of Americans already know: When gay people share in the freedom to marry, families are helped and no one is hurt. With the joys and responsibilities of marriage, couples have committed to taking care of each other in a way that society and government respects. This makes families stronger, which makes communities, states, and our nation stronger.”

Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, an LGBT civil rights group: “The core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been struck down, and the freedom to marry will soon be restored in California. An ugly chapter in our nation’s history is over.”

Jeana Frazzini of Oregon United for Marriage: “Thousands of Oregon families are still stuck with registered domestic partnerships that won’t be recognized by the federal government, and the state is still barred by its constitution from granting the freedom to marry to loving, committed same-sex couples.”

Amber Royster, executive director of Equality New Mexico: “DOMA forced the federal government to pick and choose among marriages and families, causing pain, uncertainty, and financial harm, and Prop 8 served no purpose other than to discriminate against same-gender couples—both of which violated our Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.”

Editor’s note: WiG will update this story as reactions are collected.