Millions of LGBT people rejoiced throughout the country as the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), allowing for same-sex couples legally married in the United States to have many federal benefits to which they are entitled. While a momentous occasion and definitely cause for joy and celebration, the issue is murkier when it comes to Floridians married in a state in which same-sex marriages are legal…
Millions of LGBT people rejoiced throughout the country as the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), allowing for same-sex couples legally married in the United States to have many federal benefits to which they are entitled.While a momentous occasion and definitely cause for joy and celebration, the issue is murkier when it comes to Floridians married in a state in which same-sex marriages are legal, but live in Florida where such marriages are not recognized at the state level. Fort Lauderdale attorney Robin Bodiford offered her expert opinion: “It remains to be seen, after thorough reading of the opinions what the ramifications of the DOMA ruling will be for couples who are legally married in one state, but reside in Florida, as there are federal benefits that only accrue to those who are living in a state that also recognizes same sex marriage…there remains work to do, state by state in the 36 states that have banned gay marriage, including Florida.”
Ms. Bodiford was very excited at the prospect of what the DOMA ruling means as far as eventually legalizing same-sex marriage in Florida. “…The DOMA ruling ensures that lower courts, including Florida, will now have to apply what is called ‘strict scrutiny’ to the inevitable challenge to the Florida Statute and Constitutional prohibition of recognition of same sex marriage,” she said. “This issue of strict scrutiny is pertinent to us as a group because in the past laws penalizing us were allowed to stand if the court could find any ‘reasonable’ basis for a law that discriminated against us. The Supreme Court has for now and forever raised ‘the bar’ so that essentially from now on our equal rights challenges to state laws and constitutions that discriminate against us should be successful.”
Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, was officially overturned with the Supreme Court ruling 5-4 that they would not accept the case presented before them, allowing a lower court ruling to stand that private parties do not have official standing to defend the 2008 ballot measure. This week’s ruling paved the way for marriage equality to resume in that state. Fort Lauderdale attorney George Castrataro points out, “The 5-4 decision avoids for now a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally-protected “equal protection” right that would apply to all states.” Ms. Bodiford agrees: “…In failing to accept the Hollingsworth case, the court has missed the opportunity to rule that no state has the right to deny us equal rights…[the lower court ruling upheld by the Supreme Court] falls short of establishing once and for all that we deserve equal rights and full benefits for all gays in this country.”
Despite small setbacks, it is universally agreed upon that the Supreme Court decisions were not just momentous for LGBT rights, but historic, and unimaginable just a few short years ago. “The collective implications of the DOMA and Proposition 8 rulings affirm and validate LGBT rights and set into motion enormous legal momentum in further advocacy efforts,” Mr. Castrataro said. “The coming years will be very interesting ones to live in, and this time, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow will be ours,” Ms. Bodiford happily concluded. A sentiment shared by us all.