Ruling Affirms Benefits
3:00 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Local Reactions To High Court Decision On DOMA

UPDATE: 6/26/13, 3:17 p.m. PT

More Questions Remain

University of Washington law professor Peter Nicolas co-wrote a book on same-sex marriage called "The Geography of Love."

In an interview today on The Conversation with Ross Reynolds, Nicolas said one question that remains regarding the today’s Supreme Court decision is whether legal same-sex marriages will be recognized across state borders.


“Imagine you’re a same-sex couple from Washington, you’re married, and after a couple years you move to Idaho which doesn’t recognize same sex marriage," said Nicolas. “Will the federal government look to the law of Washington where you were married, or to the law of Idaho, where you’re now residing? So this is an issue that’s actually going to have to be ironed out over the coming months and possibly years.”

Nicolas says those questions will likely be answered through regulation clarifications and possibly more litigation. With DOMA struck down, he says same-sex couples will now get social security survivor benefits, joint tax filing and immigration status, so long as they reside in states like Washington that allow same-sex marriage.
 

UPDATE: 6/26/13, 1:08 p.m. PT

Local Leaders Weigh In

Local reaction from leaders on both sides of the gay marriage policy debate is united — at least when it comes to the future of the matter.

Supporters and opponents say there’s more work to do. Joseph Backholm, director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, said what surprised him most about the Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act is what he sees as an activist court actually creating legislation rather than interpreting it.

“The idea that the federal government does not have the power to define marriage for itself is a completely and entirely new idea,” said Backholm. “Any suggestion that it has previously existed in the Constitution is fictional. So yes, they created a standard that previously did not exist to allow them to reach that conclusion.  So that’s not interpreting law, that’s making law.”

Backholm said he is concerned that the federal government will not be allowed to define what makes a family, but states are able to do so.

The fight isn't over.

Seattle writer and gay rights advocate Dan Savage says he cheered when he learned of today’s decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. He says that while it is a relief that the federal government must recognize his marriage with his husband, this isn’t the end of the debate.

“The fight isn’t over. Some people are talking about these two rulings as if, game over, we won, we can fold these tents up and go home,” said Savage. “And that’s not true. Both the DOMA ruling and the Prop. 8 ruling really lay the groundwork for future Supreme Court decisions”

Savage says that he and his husband intend to immediately re-file last-year’s income tax return as a joint return, now that their marriage can be recognized under federal law.

Both Backholm and Savage spoke  with KUOW’s Marcie Sillman on Weekday.

UPDATE: 6/26/13, 12:59 p.m. PT

Capitol Hill Quiet After DOMA Decision

Today’s Supreme Court ruling invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act had people celebrating on Capitol Hill this morning. Washington, DC, that is. On the other Capitol Hill, the one in Seattle, reactions were more subdued.

Monica Anaya owns TNT Espresso Company on Broadway in the heart of Capitol Hill.
Credit Jim Gates

The court’s decision came down at around 7:30 a.m. local time. Monica Anaya owns TNT Espresso Company on Broadway in the heart of Capitol Hill.  She thinks the would-be-revelers are still in bed.

“Well, I believe Cap Hill is still sleeping but I’m sure all woke up ready to hear what the Supreme Court had to say. And I know in my heart that they’re all very happy with the decision,” said Anaya.

The only customer in line at her outdoor espresso booth was her fiance. They plan to get married in August. She and her husband-to-be waited to start planning their wedding until R-74 passed. R-74 was the Washington state law that legalized same-sex marriage. Anaya says today’s Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA is clear vindication of Washington states’ earlier decision on gay marriage.

“We should be going forward progressive; that’s what Washington state has wanted and that’s what the United States should demand,” she said.

Local celebrations are sure to heat up throughout the day as more people learn of this morning’s decision. The ACLU and several other local human rights groups are planning a rally tonight on the steps of the US Appeals Court in downtown Seattle.