Sunday, March 10, 2013

16 Days Until Gay Götterdämmerung : Get Ready!

16 Days Left until what I have been calling gay götterdämmerung or Gaytterdämmerung: the oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court in the two most important LGBT-related cases in nearly two decades. The Court will be considering whether California's attempt to ban same-sex  marriage by the passage of Proposition 8 is constitutional in the case called Hollingsworth v. Perry AND the next day the court will then hear arguments about whether the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional in the case United States v. Windsor.

Lesbian law professor Nan Hunter has a great piece analyzing the issues involved in the two cases in The Nation which is a must read as well as another piece discussing the new context the Court finds itself as it considers these cases:
Nonetheless, it is unquestionably true that the conventional understanding of where the center of American politics stands on this issue has dramatically moved. The reasons are many. A cumulative process, especially since 2009, has driven support for legalizing gay marriage ever higher in public opinion polls. The shock of the 2008 defeat in California catalyzed a younger generation of gay men and lesbians, with ardent support from straight allies, to insist on marriage as the premier gay rights issue. Since that election, gay groups have won a series of state-level battles, as several legislatures legalized equal marriage, including New York (with one chamber controlled by Republicans). At the national level, Congress repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell.” 
The icing on the wedding cake came with last November’s election. Voters in three states affirmatively chose to adopt gay marriage, and Minnesota voters rejected the attempt to pass a Prop 8–like measure. Moreover, the first president ever to endorse marriage equality was handily re-elected, without his position ever surfacing as a controversial issue in the campaign. Indeed, support for gay marriage, along with immigration reform, has become the litmus test most frequently identified in the press for assessing whether the Republican Party can rebrand itself as moderate and escape terminal fuddy-duddyism. 
Of course, the outcome in the Supreme Court will be decided not by polls or pundits but by nine individuals; actually by six, since there is no question as to which result Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito will endorse. But Justice Kennedy, who wrote the two strongest opinions supporting gay equality in past cases, and even Chief Justice Roberts, who has no real track record in this area, are likely to take seriously the libertarian and business arguments for allowing gay couples to marry. Not doing so would continue the house-divided status quo, in which one’s marital status and even the possibility of divorce depends on an increasingly irrational mélange of different state laws. And, as the firepower across the political spectrum in support of gay marriage so dramatically demonstrates, the ultimate resolution is inevitable. Best just to bite the bullet and do it now.
Hunter is one of the smartest LGBT legal analysts in the country so you should read her stuff for yourself. She writes regularly at The Nation and at her own blog at

The week of the oral arguments will be a day of national focus on LGBT rights (i.e. Gaytterdämmerung). Activists (on both sides of the issue) are using that focus to organize and publicize events. For example, there will be a march in Washington, D.C. on March 26 and March 27 and other places. Check out for more details.

Hat/tip to Joe.My.God

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