June 26, 2015. Do you remember where you were when the Supreme Court ruled—5-4—that states cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying, and all states must recognize same-sex unions? June 26, the day the 103-page Obergefell v. Hodges was handed down, is a new Stonewall of sorts—a spectacular day for LGBTQ people—and, in fact, all Americans. Despite pockets of resistance, gay marriage is now simply marriage—and it’s the law of the land. PQ has been collecting responses from local LGBTQ leaders, folks who’ve dedicated their lives to the movement.
Mark Johnson Roberts is a family law attorney for Gevurtz Menashe and has been a legal advocate for Oregon’s gay and lesbian citizens since 1991; he is former president of the Oregon State Bar as well as the Oregon Gay and Lesbian Law Association. Roberts writes:
“In the much-anticipated decision in the consolidated cases of Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court held that marriage is a fundamental right under our national constitution—a fundamental right that cannot be denied to same-sex couples without running afoul of the constitution’s equality guarantees.
“Speaking for the Court, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy observed that ‘the constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.’ One of those rights, the Court held, is marriage. The Court has recognized marriage as a fundamental liberty at least since the 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia, in which a unanimous Court ruled that the right of marriage could not constitutionally be denied to interracial couples.
“Following the Loving precedent, the Court observed that American family life has expanded over the last 50 years or more to include many same-sex couples and their children. The continued exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in those circumstances created two classes of families in our country and demeaned same-sex couples and their families. The Court’s decision today recognizes marriage in America for what it is—an ever-changing institution that provides comfort and support to the family, the basic foundational unit of our society.
“Some will complain that the Court’s decision has foreclosed further debate on this issue, but truthfully, there is no further debate to be had. The national conversation about same-sex marriage, which began as long ago as the Court’s contrary 1972 decision in Baker v. Nelson, has ended as it must always have ended, with the recognition that American families are as diverse and wide-ranging as the American people themselves. On this great day, which, coincidentally, corresponds with the 46th anniversary of the modern gay-rights movement in 1969, Americans have a great deal to be proud and thankful for.”
Roey Thorpe, Director of Advocacy Programs for Equality Federation and former Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon:
“I remember election night in 2004, struggling to understand how we could lose the Measure 36 campaign when we knew we were on the side of love and fairness. What happened next was both epic and utterly simple: we didn’t give up. We doubled down, we metabolized all that sadness and outrage into passion and determination.
“People talk about momentum and tides turning without thinking about what it takes to make that happen. Which is how it should look: effortless, inevitable. But we know different, that today love won because of the multitude of people in Oregon and across the country who have sacrificed so much so that we could get to this moment.
“And so the Supreme Court ruling holds a very special meaning: that we can–and have– changed the world for the better, and that we should take the long view even when it seems like we’re losing. The world needs people who know this, and know how to do it.
“What’s next? Let’s take all that beautiful energy and make sure that tragedies like the one in Charleston never happen again, that if love is love then hate is hate, and that every life lost to racism or bigotry is unconscionable. Let’s start by putting an end to gun violence and reform our corrupt and racist justice system, and demand accountability from law enforcement and from each other. We have been given the gift of knowing our own potential, and it’s up to us to build it into something bigger than any of us could dream.”
In July 2013, Portland attorney Lake Perriguey initiated the federal court challenge to Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage. He says:
“The choice to marry, or not to marry, is a fundamental right, even for gay and lesbian people, and the government may not violate the guarantee of equal protection of the laws by excluding gay and lesbian people from full participation in this fundamental civil right.
“The Supreme Court today recognized and respected the inherent human dignity of gay and lesbian people, and appreciated as vital the choices that we make as gay and lesbian individuals, and how these choices relate to laws created by other human beings that might reduce our dignity and limit our choices in a manner that is different than the way those laws affect straight people.
“The dignity afforded by our government to gay and lesbian people is, today, finally equal to that of other citizens in our country. No more. No less.
“And this dignity applies to the fundamental choice of whether to marry, or whether to stay a lifelong bachelor/ette. It is not the government’s nor a majority of voters’ whim to limit this decision for us.
“This case is about much more than marriage. The Supreme Court decision recognizes that gay and lesbian people are entitled to personal dignity and autonomy when it comes to making fundamental choices, and to the civic equality when the government holds a monopoly in handing out certain rights and privileges.
“The Supreme Court’s recognition and affirmation of our inherent dignity as gay and lesbian people will inspire and quicken the spirit of our country, young and old, gay and straight, and queer and trans, as we collectively celebrate our Nation’s inclusivity in recognizing these fundamental principles of what it means to be a citizen.”
–Compiled by Daniel Borgen