Sunday, December 28, 2014

Married Pride

From USA Today:
"Heroine of gay marriage movement feels pride in progress"

The subject is same-sex marriage, but the vivacious blonde who has come to personify the issue stops her interrogator with a scolding. "Could I suggest that you don't say same-sex marriage anymore?" Edie Windsor asks politely. "Because it's not. It's marriage." As in her own marriage to the late psychologist Thea Spyer, which followed a 40-year engagement. As in the wedding ceremonies she attends or is forced to skip because she can't keep up with all the invitations. As in the marriages sanctioned by judges in 27 states this year, all of which mention Windsor by name. While 2013 brought the landmark ruling in United States v. Windsor that forced the federal government to recognize legally married gay men and lesbians, 2014 was the year that the case spurred a judicial juggernaut. From Oklahoma in January to Mississippi in December, federal judges in the nation's most conservative states declared that what this 85-year-old widow started can't be stopped. From the comfort of her apartment at the foot of Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village, Windsor recalls the "mind-blowing days" when state laws and constitutional amendments banning gay marriage were falling like so many dominoes. "The statistics were changing every night," she says. Even now, Windsor has trouble with the math – 35 states where marriage is legal for two men or two women, and 10 others where lower court judges have said it should be. "I didn't expect any of it," she says, "and certainly not in the time frame." To be sure, several recent decisions upholding gay marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana and Puerto Rico have slowed progress and put the ultimate resolution in doubt. The Supreme Court that brought Windsor instant fame on June 26, 2013, will have to make the final call – perhaps next year. But the court may have tipped its hand in October when it refused to hear appeals from Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin challenging lower court rulings that struck down gay marriage bans. Now most Americans live in states where such marriages are legal. Windsor, a former IBM computer systems programmer, isn't discouraged by the setbacks. She never expected the fight she began in 2009 to be easy. At least one part of the progress made to date cannot be taken away, she insists. "They can't reverse the marriages," she says. "People who are married are married."  When Windsor and her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, filed the lawsuit that would change the arc of history, only a handful of states allowed gays and lesbians to marry. By the time they won their case, there were a dozen. After Windsor came the deluge. In the 18 months since, as gay marriage moved from seeming incredible to inevitable, Windsor has been feted by the likes of President Obama and former president Bill Clinton. Plaques and trophies adorn her harpsichord. A 2014 photo album rests atop her coffee table. So many letters pour in from around the country and the world that she now responds with a pre-printed card.
Most fulfilling, however, has been the rapid pace of court decisions that have enabled tens of thousands of couples to marry or have their marriages recognized in their home states. Neither has the steady progress in public opinion polls, which show that about 55% of Americans say gay marriage should be legal.

0 – Number of states where same-sex marriage was legal in 2002
9 – Number of states with gay marriage when Edie Windsor's case was heard at Supreme Court in March 2013
13 – Number of states with gay marriage when Edie Windsor's case was decided in June 2013
18 – Number of states with gay marriage at end of 2013
35 – Number of states with gay marriage after 9th Circuit appeals court struck down gay marriage bans on Oct. 7
4 – Number of states where marriage bans have been upheld by a federal appeals court
15 – Number of states where same-sex marriage remains illegal

^ Many people don't know the history or the case that first brought about the Supreme Court into the gay marriage debate, but I think it's important. It's a long the same lines as the black/white couple that wanted to marry and challenged the inter-racial marriage laws or the groups that fought the "separate, but equal" racist Jim Crow laws of the South in the 1950s-1960s. With that said it is not a gay issue. I believe in the "Straight, but not Narrow" stance. Things wouldn't have changed for gay people if it wasn't for the help and support of straight people the same way blacks wouldn't have been given their freedom if it wasn't for the help and support of white people. It's sad to say, but true. I'm just glad that things are changing for the better and hope the trend continues. ^

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