Wednesday morning at 10am Eastern may be the most important day in gay civil rights history, perhaps on a par with the Stonewall Riots of 1969.
On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court may rule on the constitutionality of both the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA prohibits the federal government from providing benefits to legally married gay couples, among other things) and California’s Proposition 8 (which repealed the state’s gay marriage law).
The reason there’s so much expectation for tomorrow is that it will be the final day the court releases opinions this year. And the DOMA and Prop 8 decisions have yet to be released.
Keep in mind, the court may not announce them at all this term. The Supreme Court held over both Brown v Board of Education and Roe v Wade, not announcing the decisions until the court’s next terms. Apparently this happens because the court has additional questions, or more generally, just needs more time to decide.
So, as usual, we are pawns in the Supreme Court’s cute little waiting game.
It’s a propitious week in gay history already:
Monday, June 24 is the anniversary of the largest mass murder of gays in American history.
Wednesday, June 26 is the 10th anniversary, to the day, of the Supreme Court’s decision striking down sodomy laws, Lawrence v. Texas. That’s the decision in which far-right Republican Justice Antonin Scalia bemoaned in his dissent that the decision would mean states could no longer regulate masturbation:
State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding…. The impossibility of distinguishing homosexuality from other traditional “morals” offenses is precisely why Bowers rejected the rational-basis challenge. “The law,” it said, “is constantly based on notions of morality, and if all laws representing essentially moral choices are to be invalidated under the Due Process Clause, the courts will be very busy indeed.”
What a massive disruption of the current social order, therefore, the overruling of Bowers entails.
Thursday, June 27 is the 44th anniversary of the first night of the Stonewall Riots (the riots happened overnight).
So tune in Wednesday at 10am Eastern. I’ll be waiting with everyone else, and will report back here at that time with what happens.