Gays Eye Future After Landmark Supreme Court Ruling
June 27, 2003
By Doug Windsor, 365Gay.com 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
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
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,
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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