Summer is wedding season. Across the country, thousands of hopeful, loving couples are saying, “I do” before family and friends, pledging to love, honor and share the housework. Now, thanks to a recent string of court victories there’s a chance that wedding will feature two brides or two grooms. After all, nearly half of Americans live in a state with marriage equality on the books.
That’s right. Marriage equality exists in 19 states. In case after case, court after court has ruled same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional, citing equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. For those keeping score, that’s twenty-four victories, zero losses. It’s tough to ignore the momentum.
Here at home, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto has wisely decided not to defend Nevada’s 2002 same-sex marriage ban citing “equal protection and due process” concerns. Oral arguments challenging it are scheduled for Sept. 8.
Several U.S. District Judges involved — two of whom are Republican appointments — have shown wisdom, eloquence and compassion in their rulings.
Judge Michael McShane: “I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families, families who we would expect our Constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure…”
Judge John G. Heyburn II: “In America, even sincere and long-held religious beliefs do not trump the Constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted.”
Judge John E. Jones III: “That same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition Constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock Constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of ‘separate but equal.’…We are a better people than what these laws represent…”
Support for marriage equality among all groups — including conservatives and senior citizens — has risen consistently over the years, possibly because nearly three-quarters of us know and care about a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person. To us, it’s personal. Very personal.
Recently on the season finale of the award-winning comedy series “Modern Family,” Mitch and Cam got married. The two grooms — escorted down the aisle by their parents provided plenty of drama but also plenty of heart. I cried. After all, a wedding is a still a wedding. Love is still love.
Your engraved invitation arrived today. It’s from a friend’s daughter, a co-worker, a favorite nephew, a grandchild. The couple is asking for something simple and straightforward and beautiful. They want to publicly commit to building a life with the person they love best. They ask you to RSVP. How will you respond?
Lorie Schaefer is retired, mostly. For up-to-date status of marriage equality, go to http://www.freedomtomarry.org/.