By Claire G. Gastañaga, Executive Director
The Supreme Court announced today that it will hear a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act brought by the ACLU and the Prop 8 case challenging California’s reversal on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. In both cases, however, the Supreme Court asked the parties to brief issues about whether the parties appealing the lower court rulings in the case have legal standing to make their case to the Supreme Court.
If decided on the merits, either case could have a significant impact on LGBT Virginians.  A ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional would free the federal government to recognize LGBT marriages legalized by the states and grant benefits, including tax relief, health insurance, and social security survivors’ benefits to the spouses of federal employees and members of the military, many of whom live in Virginia. A ruling on the merits of the question whether a ban on same-sex marriage violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution could affirm the right of the states to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples which would cast our current marriage amendment in legislative concrete that will take years to break down. On the other hand, a ruling overturning Prop 8 as a violation of the equal protection clause (if not restricted to California facts) could provide the jackhammer to take down that barrier to the full equality of LGBT Virginians.
Read here for more information about why these cases are so important, and to learn more about Edie Windsor’s story.