Bett Norris


June 26, 2013

That’s the date. I will remember it. This morning, on this day, the Supreme Court ruled that DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional because it denied equal treatment under the law for same sex marriages. They also refused, or returned to the lower court the case on Prop 8, the California statute that denied same sex couples the right to marry, allowing that lower court decision striking down Prop 8 to stand.

I will remember this day. On this day, my partner of thirteen years stood together in our living rooms, held each other, and cried. We thought this day would not come to pass in our lifetimes, but it did. We cried because the Supreme Court said that LGBT citizens are protected by the Fifth amendment, which reads:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Emphasis is mine.

I am equal under the law, and must be afforded the same protection under law as any other citizen. I cannot be treated as a separate class regarding marriage.


Look closely. See the flag on the door?

Sandy, my partner, said, “let’s hand our flag!” So I ran through the house, trying to listen to the news, looking fora pride flag. I didn’t think we had one, so I gave up. She took out the American flag. “This is what I meant. This is our flag too, now.” And she hung it on the door.

We are equal under the law, allowed the same protections as any other citizens.

I know, it is not complete and all-encompassing. I know there are more fights to fight. Only 13 states and DC recognize equality of marriage right now. What about couples who marry in one of those states, but live in another?  Lots of unanswered questions still to be asked and answered.

But still, for those of my generation, I really believed this would not happen in my life. Sandy and I cried, and I asked her to marry me. I never did that before, because until the federal government protected our marriage rights just as all heterosexual marriage rights are recognized and protected, I just didn’t think to ask her.

I am so glad that 84-year-old Edie Windsor lived to hear this decision. I am so glad she brought the suit and fought for over four years to see it through. She is a true hero.

Thank you, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I am so glad you still sit on the court, despite age and health issues.

Thank you, Harvey Milk. I wish you, and Matthew Shepard, and so very many young people who took their own lives in despair that this kind of acceptance and protection under law would ever extend to them, I wish you all could know that we won.

On this day, with many more fights to come, we won.

Yesterday, the same Supreme Court struck down the 1965 Voting Rights Act, leaving states like my home state of Alabama to proceed post haste to introduce voting restrictions that we have not seen since before the passage of this law.  We already fought that fight, and people bled and marched and died for that protection, and now we may have to fight again.

But today, this day, we won. Equal under the law. Equal. Today, we are equal.


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