People in the crowd in front of the Supreme Court waved rainbow flags as they celebrated today’s decisions to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and allow gay marriage in California. If you enter the word “gay” into Google’s search box, the results appear in a rainbow frame. When and why did the rainbow become a symbol of gay rights? Explainer recounted the history during last year’s Gay Pride Month. The original article is below.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and let stand a lower court decision that reinstituted gay marriage in California. Historians have referred to the cases as Brown v. Board of Education for gay rights. Was the public this fixated on the Brown decision in 1954?
There’s no question that today’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act on equal protection grounds is sweeping and historic. There is a unique feature of the 40-year gay marriage debate that makes the question of history and historical evolution particularly important: Unlike racial segregation, to which anti-gay laws are often compared, the traditional restriction of marriage to opposite-sex couples was not designed, in and of itself, to denigrate or harm same-sex couples. No matter how angry pro-gay advocates may rightly feel toward those who oppose our equality, it seems fair, at first blush, to concede that restricting marriage to straights was not exactly a malicious or irrational act based on nothing but animus against gay people. But none of that means DOMA was constitutional. Whatever the dissenters may say, each generation should interpret the meaning of a law as it applies in that generation’s own time.
Melting under the sweltering Washington sun, hundreds of gay marriage supporters (and swarms of journliasts) gathered outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning to hear the court's rulings on the Defense of Marraige Act and California's Proposition 8. Same-sex marriage proponents chanted and sang, made bets with one another on the court's decisions, and lamented slow cellphone service while searching for updates before and during the announcements. Opponents to same-sex marriage were almost entirely absent.
Although the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, the map above, based on data from the Pew Research Center, shows that marriage-equality activists still have a long road ahead worldwide. Only 15 countries have national laws allowing same-sex marriage. In another two, the U.S. and Mexico, gay marriage is legal in some jurisdictions. Thursday’s ruling requires the federal government to provide married gay couples with the same benefits as married straight couples. It’s a historic victory, but the U.S. has far to go before joining Canada, France, Brazil, and other countries in legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
Some of us go through our professional lives wondering if we’re in the right line of work or if there’s something else we could be doing that would make us happier. Musing about a career change or other life pivot can be a potent source of motivation, yet most of us never act on these impulses. Those who do follow through often engineer second acts that are game changers.
It’s a rare moment when a court can write a stream of words and make the lives of many thousands of people instantly better. That’s what five Supreme Court justices have done today by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. Their historic, tremendously exciting, and full-throated stand for equality will bring federal benefits raining down on legally married gay couples in a dozen states—and resonate far beyond even that important change.
On Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court issued its decision in United States v. Windsor, voting 5–4 to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Tonight, as proponents of same-sex marriage celebrate the decision, they should be sure to raise a glass to an attorney and activist named Mary Bonauto, who has been called the mastermind of the legal strategy that eventually led to DOMA’s collapse. Bonauto works for a Massachusetts-based gay rights organization called Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD. She has had a hand in pretty much every major gay marriage legal victory over the past 20 years. As Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who argued United States v. Windsor, put it in a March New York Times piece, “No gay person in this country would be married without Mary Bonauto.”
Now the shoe is on the other foot, and it is time for the court to strike down a federal statute in order to advance a liberal policy goal rather than a conservative policy goal. Justice Scalia’s paean to the democratic process in his dissent sounds a little hollow, coming in the wake of his votes to strike down affirmative action programs and Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act—both of them the result of the democratic process, as much as DOMA was. Meanwhile, none of the liberals pipe in to explain how to reconcile the outcome of this case with the concerns about democracy that they expressed in dissenting opinions in the other cases. (Ginsburg, in Shelby County: “That determination of the body empowered to enforce the Civil War Amendments ‘by appropriate legislation’ merits this Court’s utmost respect.”)
In this week's video, Prudie counsels a woman whose rabbit just endured with the world's worst pet-sitter.
For years the National Security Agency has successfully shielded its surveillance programs from any real public scrutiny. But in the past few weeks, its controversial spying efforts have been thrust into the international spotlight following an unprecedented leak of top-secret documents.
Emily, you present Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl as a Solomonic tussle between the biological father of Baby Veronica and her adoptive parents. Both sides possess strong claims to parental rights, and the only thing to do is think deeply about what is in the best interest of the child, and resolve the case accordingly. That is not how I read the opinion. When a statute is as ambiguous as this one is, and the court breaks down along ideological lines (as the court nearly does—with Scalia and Breyer switching places, as is becoming increasingly common), a good place to start is with the ideological underpinnings of the case. Appearances to the contrary, the case is not about the relative interests of biological parents versus adoptive parents—an issue which has little ideological valence these days. It is about race and racial classifications.
For those who think that Edward Snowden deserves arrest or worse, cheer yourselves with the thought that Sheremetyevo International Airport might possibly be the most soul-destroying, most angst-inducing transport hub in the world. Low ceilings and dim lighting create a sense of impending doom, while overpriced wristwatches glitter in the murk. Sullen salesgirls peddle stale sandwiches; men in bad suits drink silently at the bars. A vague scent of diesel fuel fills the air, and a thin layer of grime covers the backless benches and sticky floor. It's not a place you'd want to spend two hours, let alone 48.
Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 249 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and June Thomas with the audio player below.
The Supreme Court has ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. We want your reactions to the news. Send us photos and videos through Twitter, Instagram, and Vine using the hashtag #SCOTUSreax. The best ones will be featured right here on Slate.
Yesterday the Supreme Court decided Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl and although it is not clear whether it will result in a “win” for the Adoptive Couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, there is no question it is a win for adoptive couples in general.
“Hubris is a fit word for today's demolition” writes Justice Ruth Ginsburg about the Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision invalidating the key provision of the Voting Rights Act. And it is a particularly toxic form of hubris: one that diminishes and disparages the elected representatives of the American people.
We often hear how the world as we know it will end, usually through ecological collapse. Indeed, more than 40 years after the Club of Rome released the mother of all apocalyptic forecasts, The Limits to Growth, its basic ideas are still with us. But time has not been kind.
Shelby County v. Holder, decided Tuesday, struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act (the part requiring certain states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to obtain federal permission in advance to change their voting procedures—called “preclearance”) as violating the “fundamental principle of equal sovereignty” of the states. This is a principle of constitutional law of which I had never heard—for the excellent reason that, as Eric points out and I will elaborate upon briefly, there is no such principle.