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Marriage has long been one way that couples express their love for one another and their commitment to their relationship. Despite arguments that so-called “same-sex marriage” seeks to redefine “traditional marriage,” allowing committed gay and lesbian couples to get married does not change the meaning of marriage. Gay and lesbian couples want to get married to make a lifetime commitment to the person they love and to protect their families.
In America, nine states plus D.C. allow same-sex couples to marry, two more respect marriages of same-sex couples validly performed in other states, eight provide civil unions or comprehensive domestic partnerships, and two more have more limited domestic partnership systems. That’s 20 states plus D.C. that provide some significant state-level relationship protections, and those states are home to 130 million people.
These facts are heartening, but there is still a lot of work to do to improve laws that will protect all families. Since the first marriage lawsuit for same-sex couples in America in 1971, the ACLU has been at the forefront of both legal and public education efforts to secure marriage for same-sex couples and win legal recognition for LGBT relationships.
Marriage for Same-Sex Couples (2011 resource): The concept of equal protection under the law, enshrined in our Constitution, requires that fundamental rights like the right to marry be made available equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The ACLU is advocating for fair marriage laws at the state and federal levels.
Supreme Court Reviews DOMA and Prop 8: This is it – the Supreme Court marriage moment that the ACLU has been working towards for years. The Court announced today that it has granted review of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in Edie Windsor’s case. The Court also took review of California’s Prop 8, so the full range of marriage issues will now be before the high court. These cases are poised not just to take down DOMA and Prop 8, but to be the next building blocks for LGBT equality more broadly.
"Defend" Marriage by Respecting Marriages (2011 blog post): The federal Respect for Marriage Act would help address inequities in current federal law.
DOMA Repeal Vote Represents a Critical Shift: On Nov. 10 2011, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines (10-8) in support of the Respect for Marriage Act legislation that would fully repeal the discriminatory and unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). A critical shift has taken place in Congress in the 15 years since DOMA was signed into law. This shift is evident not only among congressional supporters of LGBT rights, but also among opponents. It is almost as if the wind has been taken out of their sails.