President Barack Obama hailed the decision, saying “Our nation was founded on a bedrock principle that we are all created equal,” Obama said. “The project of each generation is to bridge the meaning of those founding words with the realities of changing times. Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens,” he said. “And then sometimes, there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a 1996 law denying federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples is unconstitutional, in a sign of how rapidly the national debate over gay rights has shifted. The decision was five to four, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing the majority opinion, which the four liberal-leaning justices joined. (Read the decision.)
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts was in the minority, as were Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The ruling overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed with bipartisan support and President Bill Clinton signed.
Nevada state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson (D-North Las Vegas) on Monday declared that he is gay during a legislative debate over a measure to repeal the state’s gay marriage ban.
“I’m black. I’m gay,” he said, in what the Las Vegas Sun described as a “trembling” voice. “I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male.”
He dismissed the idea that gay marriage threatened other marriages. “If this hurts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place.”
The measure passed the Senate by a 12-9 vote, with 11 Democrats and one Republican voting in favor. It would remove the ban on gay marriages in the Nevada Constitution. If passed by the Assembly, which has a 27-to-15 Democratic advantage, and both houses again in 2015, the repeal would then be put to voters in 2016.
Nevada voters passed a gay marriage ban in 2000 and 2002. The legislature passed a domestic partnership law over former Gov. Jim Gibbons’ (R) veto in 2009. A February poll by the Retail Association of Nevada showed that 54 percent of Nevadans favor repealing the marriage ban while 43 percent oppose.
Two 27-year-old South African men, Tshepo Cameron Modisane (pictured left) and Thoba Calvin Sithole (pictured right), tied the knot Saturday in a ceremony that is being heralded as the nation’s first gay wedding, according to the Huffington Post.
The couple was married in the town of KwaDukuza and stood before 200 guests as they exchanged their vows. On a continent that views homosexuality as vile lifestyle, both men were brave enough to proudly proclaim their love for one another in a public setting.
Modisane and Sithole met three years ago as students studying in Durban but then lost touch for a few months. They later bumped into each other at a gym and became fast friends, supporting each other during workouts. As their chemistry grew, the men soon realized that their relationship was moving past mere friendship.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration urged the Supreme Court on Thursday to strike down California’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, staking out a legal theory that would forbid states from banning same-sex marriage if it were adopted by the court.
In an amicus brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the administration particularly said those states which allow civil unions but not same-sex marriages — Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island — were violating the 14th Amendment’s right to equal protection.
“The designation of marriage,” wrote Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., “confers a special validation of the relationship between two individuals and conveys a message to society that domestic partnerships or civil unions cannot match.”
It appears that ever since prominent African American figures have publicly voiced their support of gay marriage, the African American community’s support of gay marriage has surged. A national exit poll by Edison Research shows that black voters favored their state legalizing gay marriage, 51 to 41 percent. Pew polls have also showed an increase from 36 percent in 2011 to 44 percent last month supporting gay marriage.
According to the exit poll conducted by Edison Research on behalf of the NEP, 51 percent of black voters said their states should legally recognize same-s*x marriage, compared with 47 percent of whites who favored this idea.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally at Doolittle Park on October 24, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Obama is on a 48-hour campaign tour of battleground states, including Colorado, Florida and Iowa. (Photo by John Gurzinski/Getty Images)
(AP) – President Barack Obama on Thursday threw his support behind ballot measures in Maine, Maryland and Washington state that would legalize same-sex marriage. Though the president first voiced his general approval for gay marriage in May, he had not previously offered specific endorsements of the three measures. In each case, the endorsements were issued through the state branches of Obama’s re-election campaign.
For years, the so-called National Organization for Marriage, the anti-gay group at the helm of many campaigns opposing the freedom to marry, has made it their focus to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks,” a strategy specifically outlined in a series of classified documents that came to light earlier this year. The organization has tried desperately to pit minority group against minority group in its efforts to push its agenda.
But in recent months, we’ve seen time and time again that NOM’s efforts are failing. African-American support for the freedom to marry is at an all-time high, and it continues to increase steadily as we approach the November 6 election. Our first African-American president also became the first sitting president to announce his support for ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. And the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a longtime supporter of the LGBT community, adopted an official resolution in favor of the freedom to marry back in May of this year.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration said Wednesday that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.
Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act “contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships – precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (Constitution’s)Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.”
The Justice Department had defended the act in court until now.
“Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed” the Defense of Marriage Act, Holder said in a statement. He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional and that Congress has repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Holder wrote to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that Obama has concluded the Defense of Marriage Act fails to meet a rigorous standard under which courts view with suspicion any laws targeting minority groups who have suffered a history of discrimination.
The attorney general said the Justice Department had defended the law in court until now because the government was able to advance reasonable arguments for the law based on a less strict standard.
At a December news conference, in response to a reporters’ question, Obama revealed that his position on gay marriage is “constantly evolving.” He has opposed such marriages and supported instead civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. The president said such civil unions are his baseline — at this point, as he put it.
“This is something that we’re going to continue to debate, and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward,” he said.