The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the American homosexual community in two gay rights cases last week. The Courtruled against Proposition 8, allowing same-sex marriages to resume in California, and also voted to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law which prevented federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. The court voted 5 to 4 in both cases.
By striking down DOMA, same-sex married couples now have equal rights and benefits of heterosexual couples. DOMA, which came into being in 1996, has long been a much hated law in the gay community, as it saw the law as unconstitutional. That was the same reasoning the Supreme Court gave for its decision.
Proposition 8, a law which prevented same-sex marriages in California, was previously struck down by Vaughn Walker. Walker, a federal judge in San Francisco, is also gay. Private sponsors in defense of the law brought the case to the Supreme Court, but lost the decision. Just two days ago they appealed the decision, but it was quickly turned away. In response to the attempted appeal, Ted Boultrous, a lawyer for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, said he thinks “it is time for proponents of Prop 8 to stop trying to stop people from getting married and turn their attention to something else.”
While this is a big win for gay rights in America, it still does not grant the homosexual community full equality in the United States. While same-sex married couples can now get full benefits, the amount of states that allow same-sex marriages are few. With California, one of America’s biggest states, now allowing same-sex marriages, it may cause more states to allow them in the near future. It remains to be seen what effect, if any, these rulings will have on gay rights in Canada.
While votes were still very close, some people, including Supreme Court Justice Scalia, think that the majority decision will lead to allowing gay marriage worldwide. “It is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Justice Scalia said.
Many celebrities tweeted their enthusiasm over the rulings.