All eyes will be on Washington later this month, as the United States Supreme Court has announced that on September 29, they will consider whether to hear one or more of the federal marriage equality cases in their current term. If they take one of the cases, we could have a nationwide marriage ruling as soon as June 2015.
We reflected on the road that has led us to this point as we sat in the courtroom here at the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, where we recently attended oral arguments in the federal marriage equality cases for Nevada, Idaho, and Hawaii. Inside the courtroom, the lack of credible anti-equality arguments was evident, as demonstrated by the dubious analogies to sticks and balls repeatedly used by Monte Stewart, the lawyer arguing in favor of anti-marriage equality laws in both the Idaho and Nevada cases. If you weren’t there, you might have been confused by news items such as this one from Boise State Public Radio: “Stewart mentioned crystal balls several times during the hour long hearing”—a surreal turn that felt to those in the courtroom like the other side had clearly run out of ideas.
Outside the courtroom, we were reminded of the true meaning of love and marriage when we learned there are newlyweds in our family. The announcement came, not from one of our younger siblings or cousins, but from my 93-year-old uncle who married the wonderful woman who has spent the last four decades by his side. At the same time as the anti-equality lawyers before the 9th Circuit were arguing that straight couples will no longer wed or stay married once same-sex couples are able to marry, my uncle and aunt proved the opposite to be true. They married for the exact same reasons that all couples marry: to love, comfort, honor, and keep each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.
Upon hearing their wedding news, one of our cousins remarked on the common themes that unite us in matrimony, whether gay or straight, young or old: “So sweet that they have decided to get married at this late date! Also wise, since it will give them the rights they deserve…just the same rights that same-sex marriage advocates are rightly fighting for.”
As a family, we see many parallels to the current marriage equality debates taking place today in courtrooms and dining rooms all across America. As a child of interracial parents who grew up in the 1960s, I know exactly what Judge Posner meant when he wrote earlier this month in the 7th Circuit marriage cases that asking interracial couples in the 1960s to accept “same-race unions” instead of marriage would have been “considered deeply offensive, and, having no justification other than bigotry…”
We are very thankful that the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that interracial couples have the freedom to marry all across our country. Today, as a gay American married in California, I know the time has come for the Supreme Court to rule that LGBTQ Americans in all 50 states have the basic human right to marry the person they love. We hope that as soon as next summer the justices do exactly that.
John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney, together for nearly three decades, were plaintiffs in the California case for equal marriage rights decided by the California Supreme Court in 2008.