26 June 2013

What a sweet, sweet day. For those of us who have longed for equality, in many ways today is as sweet a day as yesterday was bitter.

As you know, yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was a devastating decision to many of us who feel like discrimination still runs rampant in certain states when it comes to voter rights.

But today, the Supreme Court got it gloriously right by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (one of the most bone-headed measures signed into law by President Clinton) and by dismissing a petition put forth by proponents of Prop 8. By doing so, SCOTUS effectively made gay marriage legal in California.

I realize there may be people reading this who disagree with today’s decision and I want to respect your rights, but I don’t want to live in a country where basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution aren’t afforded to all and today felt like a big step —there are hopefully many more to come — in recognizing that we are all equal. Love is love and a civil right, by its very nature, has to apply to all citizens.

I’ve loved seeing my gay friends’ comments today on Facebook. They’ve ranged from quietly thankful to unabashedly joyous, but I was especially struck my one where my friend said he never thought he’d be able to legally call his partner of 30 years his husband, but now he could. Another friend proposed to his longtime boyfriend on Facebook (he said yes). I’ve had other friends express their delight that their gay siblings could now get legally married, just as they have always been able to. 

The ruling is also a reminder that one person can change history. Edith Windsor is who we have to thank for today’s DOMA reversal. She married Thea Spyer in 2007. After Spyer’s death in 2009, the IRS, citing DOMA, did not recognize their partnership and said Windsor owed taxes on the money Spyer left her-- money that would not be owed by the widow or widower in an opposite-sex marriage. Windsor sued the U.S., claiming this was a violation of her rights under the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection clause. The case ran its way up the courts, finally reaching the Supreme Court. So in addition to her DOMA victory, I read that Windsor is owed more than $300,000 in tax refunds from the IRS, which just seems like icing... a lot of icing.

Today’s rainbow-colored $10 goes to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, which provides healthcare and social services in Los Angeles. Helping close to 250,000 people a year, the LAGLC offers, according to its website, legal, social, cultural and educational services, as well as a 24-bed transitional living situation for homeless youth.

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