Gay Rights Rallies in 160+ Cities, 50 states Before Supreme Court Deliberations
Capitalizing on recent polls showing burgeoning popular support for equal marriage rights, this week gay activists will hold vigils, marches and rallies in all fifty states and over 160 cities on the eve of the Supreme Courts oral arguments about two pivotal gay rights cases.
In Chicago the rally and march, sponsored by the Gay Liberation Network (GLN) and The Civil Rights Agenda, will begin at 5:30 PM, Monday, March 25 at Federal Plaza at Adams and Dearborn Streets, followed by a march to Pioneer Court by the Tribune Building.
On March 26 and 27 the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in two cases about the freedom of same-sex couples to marry. These cases – which challenge the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 – are fundamentally about whether LGBT Americans can enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities as everyone else.
Even if Illinois legalizes same-sex marriage, more than 1100 federal rights and responsibilities associated with marriage would still be denied gay couples here, according to a General Accounting Office study. The primary legislative barrier to this equality is the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by President Clinton, which denies legal equality at the federal level even in states which have legalized same sex marriage, and allows states which do not recognize same-sex marriage to deny recognition of such marriages made in states that do.
To many, DOMA and Proposition 8 blatantly violate core constitutional principles that even conservative, "Originalist" Supreme Court justices, if they're being intellectually honest, should strike down.
The "full faith and credit clause" of Article V, Section 1, for example, says that states are required to respect the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state," and should force a rejection, at least in part, of DOMA. If the Court is being honest, the "equal protection clause" of the Constitution's 14th Amendment, requiring that "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws," should force a rejection of Proposition 8 and all other state-wide anti-gay laws.
"The reality is that the Court, for all its pretensions and rationalizations of deciding cases based purely upon constitutional principles and precedent, is a completely political body," said GLN co-founder Andy Thayer. "In the 1990s, all branches of government leaned on anti-gay public opinion to thwart core constitutional principles that should have protected LGBT people. Today, with a massive swing in public opinion in favor of equality, our aim through these marches and rallies is to force the Court to live up to its Constitutional obligations that it heretofore has botched."
"We have to send a signal to the Court that if it rejects or muddles on equal rights, that it will pay an immense political price, that it will discredit itself as an institution, and that ordinary citizens will reject its legitimacy as an unelected, unaccountable body which has no place in a true democracy. Increasingly, institutions that oppose legal equality for LGBT people are seen as out of step with modern society, if not downright bigoted. Our challenge to the Court is that it can either join such relics, or it can keep in touch with modern society."
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