I was at work this morning when the Supreme Court handed down its rulings on same sex marriage. It was a ruling I’d been awaiting for months, and when it arrived, my pocket blew up with notifications.
My iPod dinged, my phone dinged. Something buzzed. A text arrived. It was the biggest party my pants have hosted in some time.
The Associated Press, the New York Times, the local WSB-TV station here in Atlanta all sent out alerts, first that the ruling was in, then a generalization about what it said, and finally – with a lesson learned from reporters trying to decipher Bush v. Gore on live television – stories on what it meant.
Today, the Court offered two rulings:
- no longer can the federal government provide a preference for straight couples and ignore same-sex couples;
- and those who oppose same sex marriage in California have no standing to sue to stop it.
That second opinion was the most telling to me.
It could’ve been broader. It could’ve paved the way to allow same sex marriage in all 50 states. But this Court has an affinity for states’ rights that will never allow that to happen. Nonetheless, those opposed to same sex marriage in California lack the authority to stop it – and, I think the ruling makes clear, the standing to oppose it at all.
I’m not gay. Never even a tryst in college. Things might’ve been easier if I’d been gay, in some respects (a thought that occurs to many men after some years of heterosexual marriage). And I’ve been mistaken for being gay before. But I’m not.
Some people are. Some of the gay people I know have obviously been gay since the first grade. They played with the girl and had Leah Frank binders when the rest of us bros carried Trapper Keepers. We didn’t know they were gay at the time, but as they came to realize it on their own, it became more apparent to us.
To watch someone grow up gay is really something. It shows you that gay doesn’t just set-in suddenly or result from a conscious decision someone has made; it’s something that, very often, is always there. And why should that be a bad thing?
Same sex marriage won’t impact me, because I’m not gay. I’ve got my own heterosexual marriage to worry about. And there’s nothing in these rulings that mean that churches must host or even recognize same sex marriage, so the First Amendment is fine. It does, however, mean that it’s no longer OK to treat gay people differently, to act like there’s something wrong with them.
Remember this: the ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that requires the federal government to recognize same sex marriage comes from a suit filed by Edie Windsor of New York. Windsor, now 83, married her wife, Thea Spyer, in Toronto (where same sex marriage is actually not that big of a deal) after a 40-year courtship. When Spyer died in 2009, Windsor was left owing more than $360,000 in estate taxes – taxes she would not owe if the federal government recognized her marriage as legal.
So the decision comes not as a result of a fanatical activist, but as the product – the something good – that came from 40 years of love between two women, and through the perseverance of the surviving member of that union who asked not to be treated differently, but to be treated exactly the same as my wife and I are treated in the eyes of the law.
And those opposed to same sex marriage really needn’t worry about these rulings. That’s why the second opinion is the most telling. Not only do they not have standing in the courts, they honestly don’t have standing, period. The only people who have an interest in whether or not same sex marriage is legal are those who have been using that as an excuse not to marry their would-be husbands and wives.
And for you, welcome to married life, suckers.