This past week was a historic time for civil rights in this country. Up for consideration before the Supreme Court were two landmark cases—each with the potential to define the contours of marriage in this country for years to come. There was dense discussion of case law, legal procedure, and even a question of whether or not the right people were present to defend Proposition 8 (Perry) and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (Windsor). But at their heart, both the Perry and the Windsor cases come down to a couple simple propositions: 1) whether a person in this country is allowed to marry the person they want to and 2) whether the federal government will recognize all legal marriages in this country.
Increasingly, this doesn’t seem to be a question for many Americans. A 2013 CBS News poll in late March found that more than one-half (53%) of Americans support same-sex marriage. Polls of Latinos show the very same or higher levels of support, including a Pew poll, which found that 52% of Hispanics support same-sex marriage. Yet, for the justices who are now deliberating on these questions, it is still unclear, even to the seasoned court observer, what they will decide. We now enter the ultimate waiting game. Decisions are expected at the end of the Court’s term in late June.
The Supreme Court will decide on the constitutionality of the government’s so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 later this month. The cases being heard are United States v. Windsor (DOMA) and Hollingsworth v. Perry (Proposition 8). In advance of those oral arguments, today NCLR joined a sea of concerned citizens and organizations in filing friend-of-the-court, or amicus, briefs urging the Court to overturn both DOMA and Proposition 8.
We’re especially proud to be joining our sister organizations, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), as co-signatories to the amicus briefs. We’ve long known that Latinos support marriage equality for all, but recent polling of our community confirms it. The Windsor case in particular has many implications for Latinos, not the least being the issue of binational couples who are too often torn apart because of DOMA and our broken immigration system. The time has come for the Supreme Court to put an end to this debate and compel the federal government to recognize all legal marriages, not just those it chooses to.