What a historic day! So many emotions, it's overwhelming. As you have surely heard by now, the Supreme Court announced a 5-4 decision today in the Obergefell v. Hodges case. We have been waiting anxiously after the success of Washington's Referendum 74 in 2012 and then the Supreme Court's Windsor decision in 2013, watching state after state recognize the realities that our families exist and deserve equal recognition and protection.
Years and years of hearing that our relationships and families are less than others, but never giving up hope and never stopping our work to achieve equality suddenly changes as we watch the news and hear the words that our families and marriages will be recognized across the entirety of the United States of America. Justice Kennedy's closing paragraph is profound:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
The Obergefell v. Hodges case examined two questions: 1) Do same-sex couples share the constitutional right to marry or can states refuse to issue them marriage licenses? 2) Do states have to recognize marriages entered by same-sex couples outside the state? With the majority ruling that the Constitution protects same-sex couples freedom to marry throughout the nation, all state marriage bans are invalidated and all marriages performed must be recognized throughout the country.
As with previous cases, GSBA was the first chamber to be asked to sign on to the business-specific friend-of-the-court briefs. 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! Many 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!
Marriage equality is an important goal that many of us have spent years working toward. There are still many struggles for the LGBT community in our country, including youth homelessness, care of our seniors, equal access and respect for our trans community, and employment nondiscrimination and religious exemptions laws. GSBA will continue to work with our partners around the country, particularly other LGBT chambers, until equality is achieved, which has been our focus since our founding in 1981. But, for now, this is a day to celebrate!
Equality is good business. It was in 1981, and it still is in 2015.