June 26th marked the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling against portions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The ruling struck down Section 3 of the law, which defined marriage as an event between a woman and a man on the federal level. The decision has given same-sex couples the ability to receive the same federal benefits married heterosexual couples have.
The defeat of DOMA last June served as a decisive turning point for the rights of not only same-sex couples, but the whole LGBT community. Since the ruling, 11 states had their bans on same-sex marriage ruled unconstitutional in federal courts, including the recent decisions against bans in Indiana and Utah. There have also been challenges made in federal courts against the remaining 31 states that still have bans on same-sex marriage. It has not just been in the courts that we have seen significant gains made for same-sex couples, but from the Obama Administration as well.
Being the first sitting president to openly support gay rights, President Obama has been an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community and his actions this last year have been no different. His administration has worked tirelessly to make sure federal agencies implement the changes that came with the DOMA decision.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder praised the implementations:
“[He was] pleased to report that agencies across the federal government have implemented the Windsor decision to treat married same-sex couples the same as married opposite-sex couples for the benefits and obligations for which marriage is relevant, to the greatest extent possible under the law.”
In June, President Obama announced that he would sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The court decisions and legislation that have been ruled on and enacted this year are a reflection of the changing landscape of public opinion on same-sex marriage. In March, polling results showed that an historic high 59 percent of Americans support gay marriage versus just 34 percent who oppose.
Despite widespread support across the nation for extending full rights and privileges to same-sex couples, there are some lawmakers in Minnesota who do not support this. All four of the Republican candidates for governor said that they oppose same-sex marriage. Johnson and Honour claimed they are not focusing on same-sex marriage, however, Johnson has said that if a bill supporting “traditional” marriage crossed his desk, he would sign it. Kurt Zellers was the Speaker of the House when Republicans tried to enshrine discrimination against same-sex couples into our constitution in 2011.
Considering their unwillingness to discuss rights for same-sex couples, can we really take the chance that these candidates, if elected, will not drag Minnesota back into the stone age? Minnesotans cannot let these candidates run our state backwards in time.