Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Marriage Equality in the U.S.: Where Things Now Stand — Overviews from the Latest News

As Chris Morley points out in a comment here earlier today, I managed to photo-bomb the photo of the very first legal marriage license issued to a same-sex couple in Pennsylvania yesterday (Fred Clark alert!). It took some doing to hie me over to Pennsylvania and shove the court officer out of the way, but, hey, I'm a resourceful fellow. 

At Box Turtle Bulletin, Timothy Kincaid takes a close look at the radical activist (and George W. Bush appointee; and Rick Santorum crony; and Republican) judge who opened the door to marriage equality for gay couples in Pennsylvania — Judge John E. Jones III. Dan Savage is also finding amusement in the many tweets in the last two days having fun at Mr. Santorum's expense for having recommended Judge Jones for his current seat.

And Sahil Kapur notes for TPM that, as other judges across the nation have done in striking down their states' unconstitutional bans on same-sex marriage, Judge Jones observes in his ruling that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was prophetic in noting that the Supreme Court's invalidation of DOMA would lead to invalidation of all bans against same-sex marriage across the country. Scalia said this in dissent from the majority opinion declaring DOMA unconstitutional:

The Reagan-appointed justice warned that the majority decision -- despite officially staying neutral on whether gay marriage was a Constitutional right -- relied upon reasoning that would lead to that conclusion.

HRC offers an update today of where marriage equality stands throughout the U.S. As this overview notes, 

Since the U.S. Supreme court ruled in two historic marriage cases last summer, not a single state marriage ban has survived a court challenge (emphasis in original). 

At Slacktivist, Fred Clark points to Wikipedia's latest marriage equality map, including what has just happened in Oregon and Pennsylvania: 

As he notes, contrast this map with the most up-to-date Wikipedia map of where heterosexual marriage stands in the U.S., one which richly illustrates the invisibility of privilege to the privileged:

The developments in Pennsylvania and Oregon (and Utah and Arkansas) come just as Gallup releases the results of a new poll which shows that support for same-sex marriage has reached a new high — 55% nationwide. As Catherine Thompson points out for TPM, Gallup finds 78% of Americans aged 18-29 favoring marriage equality, and 74% of Democrats. 

Compare the Gallup findings (which echo the results of one well-conducted survey after another in recent years) with the Politico poll results published several days ago, which claim that only 48% of Americans support same-sex marriage. As David Badash notes at The New Civil Rights Movement website, the Politico poll is embarrassing for all kinds of reasons, not the least among them the tiny size of the group polled, the restriction of the polling to areas with hotly contested political races, and the fact that it was not a nationwide survey.

Any way you slice the pie, all of the preceding news is very bad news indeed for the major anti-gay group with heavy ties to both the U.S. Catholic bishops (and the Knights of Columbus) and the Mormon Church — the National Organization for Marriage. David Badash counts the ways in which this has been a very, very horrible week for NOM and its supporters.

The latest in my own little state: as Max Brantley notes for Arkansas Times, the University of Arkansas system has just rescinded the benefits it had just bestowed on newly married same-sex couples, after the state Supreme Court stayed same-sex marriages last week. I had noted that the state university system announced it would begin acknowledging the legal marriages of same-sex couples through benefits last week.

And so, as Max Brantley observes,

This [rescinding of the offer of benefits] is a particular problem for people who just registered for benefits.

It's a particular problem for real people living real lives. It's also a slap in the face to a group of now legally married employees of the state university system informing them that their marriages are somehow less legal and less valid than those of all other legally married employees of the system.

These kinds of situations, which ensue in each state in which a judge knocks down the unconstitutional barrier to marriage for same-sex couples and when the forces of reaction then place the marriages that take place in limbo, are unconscionable. They're intolerable.

To my way of thinking, they demand that the U.S. Supreme Court act and act quickly to stop the charade now taking place in a crazy-quilt way across the country, in which same-sex marriages have legal standing in this state but not that state, or in which legal same-sex marriages have occurred in various states and have then been placed in legal limbo by stays.

And so I fully agree with Josh Marshall at TPM when he writes yesterday that "[m]y own personal, civic opinion is that the issue is of sufficient national importance that the Court shouldn't remain silent while a seemingly undisputed interpretation of the constitution takes shape, especially this rapidly."

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