Several hundred same-sex marriage supporters once again gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday as the justices heard oral arguments in a case that challenges the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.
National Black Justice Coalition CEO Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Tyler Deaton of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron and Earl Fowlkes of the Center for Black Equality are among those who spoke at a rally near the steps of the Supreme Court. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church gathered along First Street, N.E., but the vast majority of those who gathered outside the court backed nuptials for gays and lesbians.
“I think it’s important for all of us, regardless of whether we’re LGBTQ, to be here in support of change and [in] support of getting DOMA overturned and expanding federal benefits to all legally married couples,” D.C. resident June Crenshaw told the Washington Blade.
Yonkers, N.Y., City Councilmember Michael Sabatino and his husband Robert Voorheis visited Edith Windsor, the New York City widow who challenged DOMA after she paid $363,000 in estate taxes following her partner’s 2009 death, on Tuesday night. Sabatino told the Blade while he and Voorheis stood outside the Supreme Court with a sign that included a picture of them on their wedding day in Canada that she seemed “pretty relaxed” and “looked very well.”
“It was just great to spend a little quiet time with her before her big day today,” Voorheis said. “I am so excited about being here. It is a culmination of years of work to get to this point and I’m really optimistic. I’m really excited and I’m very proud of Edie.”
Brian Cain of Raleigh, N.C., held a poster with a picture of his husband Juan Grajales, whom he married last September in Mexico City, while standing near the court’s steps.
DOMA prevents gays and lesbians from sponsoring their foreign-born partners for immigration purposes, but Cain told the Blade he is hopeful the justices will overturn the statute that then-President Clinton signed into law in 1996.
“[Juan is] very proud that I’m here,” Cain said. “He is hopeful because this is all we have.”
Several thousand same-sex marriage supporters and opponents descended upon the court on Tuesday as the justices heard oral arguments in the case that challenges the constitutionality of California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 that banned nuptials for gays and lesbians in the Golden State in 2008.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris told the Blade after yesterday’s oral arguments that she feels the justices will uphold two lower court rulings that found Prop 8 unconstitutional.
Crenshaw, who was outside the court on Tuesday with other same-sex marriage supporters, was less optimistic about the case’s outcome.
“There’s all kinds of possibilities,” she said. “I’m very hopeful that the Supreme Court will decide on the right side of the law and support equality.”
Shauna Vert of Ottawa said nuptials for gays and lesbians has “always been a no-brainer” to her. Canada is among the countries in which same-sex couples can legally marry, but she told the Blade she feels opponents of the issue have a right to their opinion.
“I’m glad they’re using their freedom of speech,” Vert said. “We’re going to win anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.”