Guest Viewpoint by Jeanne St. John and Brent Burford
We are writing about the two decisions announced Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of marriage.
These cases are a victory for loving, married couples and their families — and for equal justice under the law. The Supreme Court affirmed that all loving and committed couples who marry deserve equal legal respect and treatment. Today the justices ruled on the right side of history.
Our country is on a journey of understanding. As more people talk to gay and lesbian friends and family about why marriage matters, they’re coming to realize that this is not a political issue. This is about encouraging long term loving and committed relationships.
There is a groundswell of momentum. Our neighboring state Washington and other states recently have extended the freedom to marry to every loving and committed couple. A number of foreign countries have done likewise. Polls show a growing majority believe all loving and committed couples should have the freedom to marry. And this ruling hopefully brings us one step closer to winning the freedom to marry in Oregon.
Marriage matters because it strengthens families. Marriage says “we are family” in a way that no other word does and is a fundamental freedom. It is as basic as the Golden Rule: treating others as one would want to be treated includes allowing marriage for gay and lesbian couples who are truly committed to each other. We are hopeful that Oregon will be the first state to rescind a constitutional amendment limiting the freedom to marry.
Even though these decisions are significant, they also underscore the work still to be done here in Oregon. We must continue our campaign to make marriage legal for all couples in Oregon, regardless of gender. One of the cases announced, United States v. Windsor, (the DOMA case), holds that if a couple is legally married under state law, they are also married for federal purposes. The implications are significant: a couple legally married under state law (regardless of gender) would be able to file joint tax returns, receive social security spousal benefits, receive the spousal deduction under the estate tax laws, etc. But such equality under federal law cannot be available for same-sex couples in Oregon until we change the state constitutional provision limiting the freedom to marry.
We are the co-chairs of the Oregon Central Coast PFLAG (Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
Jeanne St. John