The rulings on Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court that practically forbade not giving same-sex marriages the same privileges — and the same responsibilities — as heterosexual ones is epic. The country’s most elite constitutional lawyers annulled the policy that had been signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton prohibiting the marriage of gays and lesbians — although only by a five-to-four vote.
Ten years ago, would anyone have even fantasized that there could be a societal climate in the U.S. that was not dominated by homophobic evangelical milieus, but instead an atmosphere that makes it difficult for homophobes to remain influential even in conservative circles?
Paradoxically, it seems that the rulings are only valid in the case that homosexuals are integrated into marriage law, that is to say, where it is legally possible to define something like same-sex unions. The laws in most states where marriage between homosexuals is expressly forbidden remain untouched. However, these bans will not be sustainable.
With legal logic, the Supreme Court has shown how the exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of marriage can be undermined: What is permitted in one state, including the right to claim the benefits of inheritance and health insurance, cannot be nullified in other states without contradicting the current ruling.
More of a Party than Christopher Street Day*
Correspondingly, the court dismissed the action for a ban on the marriage of homosexuals in California — gay marriage is once more possible there. The gay civil rights movement will celebrate this, and rightly so. It will make the party mood at the Christopher Street Day celebrations seem like a stale joke.
Naturally, one could argue that not everything was accorded to the gay and lesbian movement for civil equality in U.S. law. That being said, the fight for recognition and equal participation in political life has been tough for every oppressed group. African-Americans as well as women can sing many verses of that song. One must first fight for what is withheld: equal educational opportunities, the abolition of slavery, the right to vote and so forth.
But victories on a small scale often taste better than those that are merely issued by decree. For the underdogs, the heterosexuals, this is not good news. May their gods console them, for who else will?
*Editor's note: Christopher Street Day is an annual LGBT celebration held in various European cities, presumably named for the street that is home to the Stonewall Inn in New York.
Edited By Philip Lawler