In the past week, the state of gay marriage in the US wavered again. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California's Proposition 8 (upheld in 2008) was unconstitutional. Then one day later, Washington voted to approve gay marriage, and the bill will be signed into law very soon. That will hardly be the end of the matter, and the US will certainly witness more back and forth in the days to come, but it could be a step in the right direction.
On Proposition 8, the burning question is whether the case will be brought all the way up to the Supreme Court. The Huffington Post, in its The Top Ten Questions on the Next Steps article, claims that "many legal experts" say "the Court is less likely to take the case". For a more provocative read, The Slate attempts to unmask some of the politics between the DOMA lobby (that's "Defense of Marriage Act") and the anti-Proposition 8 group in A Losing Proposition: Why gay-rights leaders don’t want their big Prop 8 victory to go to the Supreme Court.The more technically inclined might want to read up on a legal analysis of the case that points out how groundbreaking the ruling is.
To quote SFGate, "Judge Stephen Reinhardt said there was no evidence for the claims of Prop 8 sponsors that banning same-sex marriage would promote children's welfare or responsible procreation, and no legal basis to exclude an entire group of people from marrying merely because of tradition."
Looking back at 2009-2010 in the early days of the case, it was trumpeted as famed attorneys Boies and Olson challenging the law. Many of the same elements reported on now were present even then; the strong legal team, existing groups' initial disagreement on their approach, and the possibility of it going to the Supreme Court for the final battle. The combination was arresting -- in tinderbox style -- conservative and progressive, coming together in a landmark case that many worried was too much too soon. Now the first hurdle has been cleared, and what happens next remains to be seen.
As for Washington, it now follows in the footsteps of the US states of Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont in allowing same-sex marriage.
But change did not come overnight. HuffPo writes, "Washington state's momentum for same-sex marriage has been building and the debate has changed significantly since 1998, when lawmakers passed Washington's Defense of Marriage Act banning gay marriage. The constitutionality of that law ultimately was upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2006. But earlier that year, a gay civil rights measure passed after nearly 30 years of failure, signaling a change in the Legislature. The quick progression of domestic partnership laws in the state came soon after, with a domestic partnership law in 2007, and two years of expansion that culminated in 2009 with 'everything but marriage' expansion that was upheld by voters." (Full article)
One of the Republicans who crossed the party line on the vote was Maureen Walsh, recorded on video in a moving speech here.