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The Court also took review of California’s Prop 8, so the full range of marriage issues will now be before the high court. These cases are poised not just to take down DOMA and Prop 8, but to be the next building blocks for LGBT equality more broadly.
The two cases both involve marriage for gay couples, but they actually present quite distinct issues. The plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case want to get married. Edie Windsor is already married – she just wants to stop the federal government from treating her marriage different from everyone else’s marriages.
Our side could get a big win – respect for marriage in all 50 states – or we could get a smaller win – marriage in California. Either win would be spectacular progress for our movement.
The ACLU has filed supportive briefs in the case against Prop 8 all along, working for decades – in courts, in legislatures, in ballot campaigns, and with the public – to help get the country, and the court, ready for this moment.
Both these cases are important to end explicit federal discrimination.
There are approximately 120,000 married same-sex couples in the U.S. today, and under DOMA, the government ignores their relationship and treats them as single where being married makes a difference – from eligibility for family medical leave, to social security survivor’s benefits, to access to health care for a spouse. It’s the last explicit federal declaration that gay people are inferior, which is reason enough to get rid of it.
When two people make the commitment that’s at the heart of marriage, it’s profoundly unfair for the government to treat them as though they’re not a family. The Windsor and Perry rulings, expected in June 2013, will be a watershed moment if our side wins either one.