Last edited: January 01, 2005

‘Next Step Marriage’

Gays Eye Future After Landmark Supreme Court Ruling, June 27, 2003

By Doug Windsor, Newscenter, New York Bureau

New York City—Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling striking down Texas’ sodomy law will open the door to other civil rights issues affecting gays and lesbians including marriage say LGBT activists.

Following the ruling Kevin Cathcart, Lambda Legal’s executive director, predicted the ruling’s impact will be broad.

“It will be a powerful tool for gay people in all 50 states where we continue fighting to be treated equally,” he said.

“Today the U.S. Supreme Court closed the door on an era of intolerance and ushered in a new era of respect and equal treatment for gay Americans. This historic civil rights ruling promises real equality to gay people in our relationships, our families and our everyday lives,” said Cathcart.

Citing the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, the high court said in its 6-3 ruling that states cannot punish gay couples for engaging in sex acts that are legal for heterosexuals.

It is that interpretation of Due Process that can be applied to other areas of gay life where discrimination still occurs, including marriage.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court is expected to rule next month in a case brought by gay and lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses. Massachusetts law does not specify the sex of partners in marriage law. Lawyers for the group argued that because the law does not forbid same-sex marriage it must permit it.

There is little doubt the Massachusetts justices will examine the Supreme Court decision before making a ruling, said Evan Wolfson, a lawyer with the New York based Freedom To Marry.

In New Jersey, a lawsuit demanding the state recognize gay and lesbian marriage under that state’s Constitution will be heard for the first time today in state Superior Court in Mercer County.

“First and foremost, the couples need all the legal protections that come with marriage,” said Michael Adams, an attorney and spokesman with Lambda Legal, which is the organization representing seven same-sex couples in a lawsuit against the state.

“Under the New Jersey Constitution, the couples we represent have the right to the same kind of treatment and legal protections as all other couples, and that includes the right to marry,” Adams said . “These couples lead the same lives as every other couple.”

The lawsuit, filed last summer, was initiated by couples who have been together between 10 and 30 years.

“The Supreme Court made it very clear,” Wolfson said. “Gay people share with other human beings the aspirations for love, family, and equality and we can no longer be shut out.”

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