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DOMA and What It’s Not

June 26, 2013

Today is a monumental day in US history and the history of LGBT rights.  But it is not a full victory.  We join in the celebration, but we also highlight the challenges that remain for full equality and for full recognition of our human right to family.

“The importance of commitment goes beyond legislation; it can’t be granted and it shouldn’t be limited. This movement is built with strength, and it is built with a core of equality and love.  And for full equality we must have full social justice.”   Justyn Hintze, Woodhull’s Deputy Director of Operations.

Today the Supreme Court ruled on two major same-sex marriage cases: Windsor v. U.S., which addressed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and Hollingsworth v. Perry, addressing California’s Proposition 8. The court heard arguments for each case in March, earlier this year.

In today’s rulings, Section 3 of DOMA was found unconstitutional.  While that does not establish a constitutional right to same sex marriage, it does mean that the Federal government will now recognize all legal marriages.

The Proposition 8 case, which affected same-sex marriages in California, was dismissed for lack of standing.  This means that same-sex marriages in California can resume.

Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance celebrates this movement forward regarding marriage equality. But even as we celebrate this civil right granted, we sound the clarion call for the human right to family.  And we note, too, the enormous steps backward in the recent decisions on racial justice issues.

“This is one battle won, but our work is far from finished.  Civil rights are granted, and we have just been granted a right – NOT the right to marry, but, rather, the right to have a marriage recognized by the Federal government.   Marriage is one form of family and we have a human right to family.  And it is on that ground that we stand, and invite you to stand with us, as we insist that the United States live up to the commitment it has had since 1948 to affirm and protect our right to family!”  Ricci J. Levy, Woodhull’s Executive Director.

The Reverend Martin Luther King famously said that no one could be free until we are all free. As we celebrate today’s hard won new recognition for same sex couples we recommit ourselves to safeguarding the fundamental human right to sexual freedom and the human rights of all.

There’s still a lot of work to do and we need your support to continue the fight for the right to sexual freedom as a fundamental human right, as well as the right to family!  We hope, too, that you’ll join us as the conversation continues at our national Sexual Freedom Summit September 19-22, 2013 in Washington, DC.



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