Editorial Exchange: U.S. Supreme Court Backs Trend for Same-Sex Marriage

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Editorial Exchange: U.S. Supreme Court backs trend for same-sex marriage

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published June 27:

Amazingly, given its recent history of bitter fights over divisive social issues, the United States is well on its way to regarding same-sex marriage as a fundamental right arising from constitutional guarantees of liberty and equality. Stripped of their legal scaffolding, the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decisions Wednesday on gay rights move the country closer to that conclusion.

The court handed down two rulings that, taken together, mark a major advance in the struggle for equal marriage rights. It struck down the 17-year-old Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined "marriage" for federal purposes as a union of one man and one woman. And it cleared the way for legalization of same-sex marriage in California. That isn't a done deal, but once it becomes law gay marriage will be legal in 13 states with some 30 per cent of the U.S. population.

In itself, that would be a huge accomplishment. But the way the Supreme Court came to its conclusion in the DOMA case has even more significance for the future.

Back in 1996, when the Republican right was in the ascendancy, Congress adopted the law explicitly "to express moral disapproval of homosexuality." Now, the majority of the court has declared that law to be unconstitutional, upholding a challenge from Edie Windsor, a New York woman who married her same-sex partner in Toronto in 2007 but found that the U.S. federal government refused to recognize that union as legal. …

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