What a historic day! So many emotions, it's overwhelming. As you have surely heard by now, the Supreme Court announced decisions today in the Windsor (Section 3 of DOMA) and Perry (Prop 8) cases. The enormity of this moment is hard to wrap our arms around. Years and years of hearing that our relationships and families are lesser than others, but never giving up hope and never stopping out work to achieve equality suddenly changes as we watch the news and hear the words that our families and marriages will be recognized by the federal government. California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage act are HISTORY!
The United States v Windsor case challenged Section 3 of DOMA, under which same-sex spouses were precluded from accessing over 1,100 federal rights and responsibilities. As a result of this unfair and discriminatory treatment, employers and employees have been adversely impacted with greater income and payroll tax liabilities, higher administrative costs, the inability to provide equal spousal benefits and exemptions around gift and estate taxes. With the 5-4 decision striking down Section 3, equal benefits will be recognized by the federal government where same-sex marriages are recognized by the state. However, as Section 2 was not challenged, there is still no right for same-sex couples to marry in the 37 states where marriage is not recognized by the state.
The Supreme Court also ruled that the appeal of Judge Vaughn Walker's landmark decision on California's Proposition 8 had no standing. This will soon result in the restoration of the freedom to marry in California.
GSBA was the first chamber to be asked to sign on to the business-specific friend-of-the-court briefs in both cases. We were proud to be asked to reach out to our membership and to the other chambers around the country to stand up and declare that equality is good business! More than one fifth of the businesses that signed on were GSBA members from the Puget Sound region - we have said it before, and we will say it again - we could not be more proud of the incredible advocacy work that you all have done!
There are some remaining questions about the impact on couples who get legally married in equality-minded states like Washington and then move somewhere with a state DOMA, and GSBA will continue to work with our partners around the country, particularly other LGBT chambers, to repeal these discriminatory laws until equality has been achieved, as has been our focus since our founding in 1981. But, for now, this is a day to celebrate!
Please join us at 5:00 this evening on the steps of the Federal Court at 5th and Madison (across from the Seattle Public Library) for a community celebration marking today's rulings.
Equality is good business. It was in 1981, and it still is in 2013.