Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Long Time Coming... But Still Long Road Ahead

Today, something amazing happened. Today, I felt a little more equal under the law. And I wasn't alone.

Edie Windsor was stuck with a $300,000 tax bill after her wife passed away. She and her lawyer decided to do something about it.

And as a result, not only does Edie Windsor have to worry about that $300,000 tax bill, but she's also just set incredible legal precedent for LGBTQ equality going forward.

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It can and will be used exactly that way, and for marriage-equality supporters, it suggests the DOMA ruling in U.S. v. Windsor is not only a breakthrough victory today, but it will continue to offer opportunities for further victories fairly soon.

Note, the Supreme Court had some options, even once the majority agreed to strike DOMA down. In fact, while the outcome was widely expected, many predicted a narrow ruling -- the justices would point to federalists principles, and say that if a marriage is legal at the state level, the federal government will recognize it, too.

But the majority went considerably further than this, saying that DOMA didn't just violate principles related to states' rights, but also that the law was discriminatory.

There are legal scholars who can speak to this in more detail, but it appears that every state with anti-gay laws has a real problem on its hands. Windsor didn't establish marriage equality in all 50 states, but it did hand a meaningful legal precedent to everyone challenging discriminatory state laws.

Going forward, any and all laws challenged as discriminatory against LGBTQ Americans will face strict scrutiny in federal courts. And yes, this is a big f**king deal. Even though SCOTUS didn't enact nationwide marriage equality today, the days of marriage discrimination in America are likely numbered.

Yet with this being said, the Prop 8 ruling was still bittersweet. LGBTQ families here in Nevada and in the 37 other states without marriage equality will still have to wait for their day in court. At least we in Nevada can look forward to progress on the Sevcik case, that will take a while. How much longer will families here and in the other 37 less fortunate states have to wait for full equality under the law?

Still, even this is progress. Less than five years ago, the "great liberal Blue State" of California narrowly voted to ban marriage equality just months after marriages began. I had to live through that, and so did many others. But now, finally, marriage equality will be restored to California. And this truly does further the momentum for marriage equality nationwide.

We've come a long way to reach this point. However, we're far from finishing the beautiful struggle for equality. This was a long time coming, but we still have a long road ahead.

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