— by Annie-Rose Strasser, Deputy Managing Editor, ThinkProgress
Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether same-sex couples should get the same federal protections and rights that straight couples enjoy. The moment could mark an important tipping point in the history of the LGBT community.
Here’s a little background on the case:
In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) codified discrimination into law by defining the federal government’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
What does that mean? It means that immigration laws can senselessly break up families; that military spouses can’t get financial assistance to buy a home if their partner is the same gender; and that the wife of a woman killed in combat, or stricken down by cancer, won’t get survivors’ benefits.
Luckily, President Obama’s administration decided to stop enforcing DOMA, and, when the case was accepted by the Supreme Court, his administration filed a brief urging them to overturn it. But House Republicans who support the law have allocated $3 million to continue defending it — money that, surely, would be better used elsewhere.
Still, it’s not all bad news when it comes to DOMA. Major players in the political debate have come to their senses and denounced discrimination. A prominent Republican Senator just flipped his stance on marriage equality, saying that he wanted his son to have the same rights as his other children; twenty-one senators who voted for DOMA changed their minds and now oppose it; nearly 300 companies and municipalities filed briefs urging the Supreme Court to strike down the law; and sociologists and major medical organizations have told the justices that they need to put an end to the discrimination.
Even former President Bill Clinton — the man who signed DOMA into law in the first place — wrote in a recent op-ed, “I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution.”
We, the people, know what’s right. We overwhelmingly support marriage equality, because we know that it’s what our Constitution provides us: Equal protection under the law.
Now it’s time to see whether the Supreme Court thinks so, too.