Protesters Conclude Two Days at SCOTUS for Prop. 8/DOMA Hearings
"Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right!"
"I am somebody! I deserve full equality! Right here, right now!"
Chants, cheers, and calls for equality filled the cold morning air as thousands gathered before the Supreme Court of the United States to voice their support for marriage equality. On both sides of the street stood crowds from all over the country and some from beyond America's borders representing the LGBT community and their straight allies.
Even as opponents of same-sex marriage marched through the street and verbally clashed with activists, a sense of fierce determination remained. Many of those protesting against same-sex marriage carried signs in English, Spanish, and Chinese calling for marriage to be defined as solely between a man and woman. Others carried signs depicting derogatory terms and images of the LGBT community and foretold the end of the nation should same-sex marriage equality come to pass.
Among the "God Hates Fags" signs of Westboro Baptist Church protesters, a lone rainbow heart sign symbolically stood out in defiance.
As both sides of the fight regarding marriage equality manifested themselves through protesters, the Supreme Court loomed impassively behind the crowd.
Beyond the cold stone steps and within the confines of that building, the justices of the Supreme Court will deliberate on two important cases made before them over the past two days. The first, Hollingsworth v. Perry deals with Proposition 8, the law banning same-sex marriage in California, while the second, United States v. Windsor, challenges the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between man and woman for federal purposes.
"For every day DOMA continues to be enforced by our federal government, thousands of legally married same-sex couples are denied critical protections," said Gay & Lesbian Advocate & Defenders Executive Director Lee Swislow following the oral arguments on Wednesday. "I am confident this case got a fair hearing today in our nation’s highest court. This day has been long in the making, and the question is not if, but when, this discriminatory law will be overturned."
If recent polls and the demonstration before the Supreme Court are any indication, the support for same-sex marriage and access to equal benefits that it should entail are currently on the rise. A recent poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC found that 58 percent of respondents believe that same-sex marriage should be legal.
"The American people are sending a loud and clear message that the time is now for marriage equality. They sent that message when thousands of people of all ages, faiths, and political backgrounds gather in front of the Supreme Court to show the broad cross-sections of support for equality," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, noting that polls have support of marriage equality at nearly 60 percent. "It’s time for loving, committed same-sex couples to enjoy the same benefits and protections that all families enjoy."
Current trends have also shown that the push for marriage equality and LGBT rights have evolved beyond a liberal issue. Many prominent Republicans have come out in favor of LGBT issues in the past few months, along with an overall push of younger conservatives who strongly value civil rights issues.
The Log Cabin Republicans has its own unique stance on DOMA and see the case before the Supreme Court as an opportunity to stand up against federal overreach.
"This could be a moment of the conservative wing of the court to get on the right side of history," said LCR Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo.
Meanwhile transcripts of the oral arguments have presented interesting pictures of the proceedings taking place within. In the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the petitioners’ argument seemed to be framed most prominently around the issue of procreation and children.
"The concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional procreative purposes, and it will refocus, refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children and to the emotional needs and desires of adults, of adult couples," said Charles J. Cooper, who spoke on behalf of the petitioners.
Justice Elena Kagan shot down the argument’s inherent logical issues, positing that a state could then refuse to give marriage licenses to any couple where both people were over the age of 55.
"Would that be constitutional? Because that’s the same state interest, I would think, you know," said Kagan. "If you are over the age of 55, you don’t help us serve the government’s interest in regulating procreation through marriage. So why is that different?"
Lambda Legal had strong words about the United States v. Windsor DOMA hearings.
"Edie Windsor had her day in court and bravely stood not only for herself, but for all lesbian and gay couples treated unequally by their government," said Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director Camilla Taylor.
Lambda’s friend-of-the-court brief argued that DOMA heaps upon married same-sex couples disadvantages that defy credible connection to any legitimate governmental purpose.
"President Obama knows it and refuses to defend DOMA in court," said Taylor. "Former President Clinton, who signed DOMA into law, knows it. And now I believe the justices of the Supreme Court have persuasive grounds to affirm the Second Circuit’s decision. Today spells doomsday for DOMA."