Come party in Washington Square Park tonight to celebrate two milestone victories for gay rights. Today, the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and appeared to clear the way for same-sex marriage in California.
The court struck down DOMA in a 5 to 4 decision on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. Justices Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Scalia dissented, with Justice Kennedy as the deciding vote. Kennedy’s opinion was supported by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.
“DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a state entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty,” according to Kennedy’s opinion. "The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity."
The decision — a major victory for gay rights advocates — means that the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages in those states where same-sex marriage is legal, such as New York. Legally married same-sex couples here can expect equal treatment under the law as opposite-sex married couples with respect to issues like filing income taxes jointly and Social Security benefits.
But the court’s decision would not impact states where same-sex marriage is not legal.
The Supreme Court also dealt a blow to supporters of California’s Proposition 8, which essentially bans same-sex marriages in that state. The court decided that opponents of same-sex marriage didn’t have the right to appeal a lower court’s decision to overturn the ban.
Tonight's celebration, organized by the Equality Rochester Coalition, begins at 5 p.m. at Washington Square Park, 181 South Clinton Avenue. In case of inclement weather, the rally will move to Fellowship Hall in the First Universalist Church, 150 South Clinton.