Since I last published an entry on this blog, many changes have occurred in the USA relative to the recognition of gay marriage and the ongoing struggle for full social and legal acceptance and treatment of gay persons by heterosexual Americans. The obscene military policy (and underlying federal legislation) known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) has been repealed, and gay Americans may now join the armed forces without having to hide their sexual orientation for fear of being "separated" (kicked out). Gay marriage has spread from the recognition of six states (and the District of Columbia) when I last posted an entry to this blog in 2010 to 16 states (and the District of Columbia).at the present time. The percentage of Americans who approve of gay marriage has soared to an extent which most gay activists did not think would or could ever occur. While much work remains to be done, particularly with regards to the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), so much has happened legislatively and socially since 2010 that it is sometimes difficult for me to comprehend the nature of the American psyche. A brief recapitulation follows:
Another gay rights case was heard and decided in the same term as Hollingsworth. The case in question was US v. Windsor, 370 U.S. ___ (2013), and it had ramifications much more serious than Hollingsworth. This case had nationwide implications, because it invalidated a Congressional act which forbade the recognition of gay marriages by the federal government, even if those marriages were solemnized in states where gay marriage was permitted.
By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms will every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition."
Gay couples who marry in states which recognize gay marriage now enjoy all of the incidents of marriage, as well as the designation of marriage. Gay couples who live in states which do not recognize or solemnize gay marriage now enjoy all of the federal benefits of marriage, but not the state benefits of marriage.
In 2010, only six states and the District of Columbia had legalized gay marriage. As of the time of writing, 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage, with several states appearing poised to do the same. As an example, the New Mexico Supreme Court is poised to rule on this issue in the near future.
Opponents of gay marriage are still pressing for a US Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a legal relationship between one man and one woman. However, three quarters of the states are required to ratify a proposed US Constitutional amendment, meaning that opponents of gay marriage would have to secure the disapproval of 37 states for such an amendment to be ratified. Only 13 states would have to approve of gay marriage in order to defeat the passage of such an amendment. Given that 16 states (and the District of Columbia) have already legalized gay marriage, and given that a flurry of litigation and the passage of additional gay marriage statutes is likely to result in the legalization of gay marriage in even more states, this is a dead issue.