Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

June 30, 2013

JEFF KOVALESKI: Court allows more time for acceptance of gays

Kokomo —

I don’t remember exactly what I said in the Bloomington studios of WFIU-FM last December.
“Noon Edition" host Bob Zaltsberg, editor of The Herald-Times, asked what I believed would be a top story in 2013. “Same-sex marriage,” I said.
The Supreme Court would announce in June its rulings on constitutional challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, I said. And those rulings would influence the state Legislature’s pursuit of an amendment to the Indiana constitution, defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
I said 20 years from now, 50 years from now, Americans would identify 2013 as a milestone in the gay rights movement.
I said it haltingly, in fits and starts — as if my larynx were a gummed-up carburetor. But my analysis was good.
The justices Wednesday struck down DOMA and afforded legally married same-sex couples the same federal benefits enjoyed by other married Americans — as long as those gay and lesbian couples live in states that recognize their unions.
The Supreme Court also let stand a trial court’s determination on Proposition 8. California’s constitutional ban on gay marriage was passed after the state legalized gay and lesbian unions. The trial court said that turnabout was unconstitutional.
Justices didn’t give gay rights advocates what they wanted: a decision making same-sex marriage legal in every state. But they did give them what they most needed.
Intentionally or incidentally, the justices allowed America’s increasing acceptance of homosexuality to continue before they hear a case challenging the constitutionality of legislative bans on gay marriage.
And the Supreme Court will hear one in the next few years, I suspect.
In 2003, 32 percent of Americans polled by the Pew Research Center said they supported same-sex marriage. Last month, 51 percent of those polled said they did. Those percentages favorable to gay marriage will continue to climb.

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