Which Court Decisions Support Gay Marriage?
Here's a rundown of a few relevant Supreme Court rulings.
What's Loving v. Virginia all about? Or Romer v. Evans? During last week’s closing arguments in the closely-watched legal challenge to California's Prop. 8, attorney Ted Olson referenced these and a string of other US Supreme Court rulings in support of same-sex marriage. SCOTUS will most likely cite these same cases in determining the (un)constitutionality of Prop. 8 and other state laws banning gay marriage. Here's a quick breakdown of these and other cases that challenged some popular yet discriminatory laws.
Loving v. Virginia
In 1958, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, an interracial couple that married in Washington DC, were arrested when they returned home to Virginia. Their crime: violating the state’s ban on interracial marriage. Their one-year jail sentence was suspended on the condition that they leave the state and not return for 25 years. The Lovings left, but took their case to multiple courts, including Virginia's Supreme Court of Appeals (now called the Virginia Court of Appeals), which ruled in favor of the state's right to ban and penalize interracial marriages. In 1967, SCOTUS overturned the decision, ruling that the interracial marriage ban violated the Fourteenth Amendment's protection of individual liberties.
Wait. Why couldn’t they get married?
The law's supporters said it was "God's will" that people of different races not be married—which sounds familiar. At the Lovings trial, a judge actually said: "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."
What’s this got to do with gay marriage?
Swap gender for race, and the injustice is evident. SCOTUS also noted that "the freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men." (My emphasis.) Nowhere in the ruling does it say, "This applies only to heterosexuals."