WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 26, 2013) — Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) applauds the U.S. Supreme Court’s two decisions today furthering the equal marriage rights of same-sex couples. The cases areUnited States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. Advancing Justice joined friend-of-the-court briefs in both cases addressing the harmful discrimination against LGBT individuals and their families.
In a 5-4 ruling delivered by Justice Kennedy in Windsor, the Court struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined “marriage” for all purposes under federal law as between only opposite-sex partners. The Court concluded that DOMA violates the principle of equal protection by disregarding state laws protecting same-sex couples in their recognition of marriage equality and “treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.”
The ruling is a tremendous step forward for the ongoing civil rights movement in this country. Lifting this discriminatory law will allow all marriages to be seen as equal in the eyes of the federal government and will provide same-sex married couples access to countless federal benefits — including tax, health and social security benefits — that will ensure more stability and security for individuals and families.
With the Court’s decision in Windsor, Advancing Justice also hopes that gay men and lesbians in binational relationships can now, like any other married couples, petition their spouses into the United States. Keeping apart loving married couples has created hardships for many same-sex couples in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Advancing Justice urges the Obama administration to quickly declare that lesbians and gay men can now submit petitions for their spouses living outside of the U.S.
In Perry, Chief Justice Roberts led the 5-4 vote in dismissing an appeal to reinstate California’s 2008 Proposition 8, a voter-passed measure outlawing marriage between same-sex couples. The Court determined that proponents of Proposition 8 did not have the legal right to appeal the district court’s 2010 ruling, which found the proposition unconstitutional.
“As a civil rights organization that works on marriage equality, we are heartened by the Supreme Court’s rulings today that advance equality for same-sex couples,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “Although we are still on the road to full equality for same-sex couples across the nation, we look forward to California once again being able to perform marriages for same-sex couples and to the Obama Administration allowing same-sex binational couples to have immigration equality.”
Advancing Justice is elated by the Court’s dismissal of the appeal. According to the Census, in 2008, the year Proposition 8 passed, there were more than 14,500 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in same-sex relationships in California. While some couples were able to marry during the brief window when marriage was permissible prior to the passage of Proposition 8, the Perry ruling means that the district court’s order prohibiting state authorities from enforcing Proposition 8 still stands. Advancing Justice hopes that marriages between same-sex couples will resume this summer. When California once again issues marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, it will be the thirteenth state, in addition to Washington DC, to allow same-sex couples to marry. Advancing Justice has no doubt that the rest of the nation will follow.
Today’s decisions are an important step forward for LGBT people, who face a broad spectrum of issues related to race, class and gender/gender identity. Advancing Justice will continue to work with lawmakers, advocates and other community members to end all forms of discrimination and to increase equal access to essential services and benefits and support opportunities for all people regardless of marital status.