By Paul Cates, ACLU
Earlier in the season, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) declared this the "Summer for Marriage," and launched a cross-country bus tour to persuade the public that allowing same-sex couples to marry would be really bad. According to most reports, not all that many people were eager to jump on board, and some say it was really just a sham.
But NOM did get one thing right: this has indeed been the summer for marriage.
The summer got started a little early with Portugal, on June 5, becoming the sixth European country allowing same-sex couples to marry. A law was passed by the Assembly and declared constitutional by the country’s highest court.
On July 8, a federal court in Boston ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it requires the federal government to discriminate between same-sex couples and different-sex couples, all of whom are validly married in Massachusetts.
On July 22, Argentina, also through the legislative process, became the first South American country to allow same-sex couples to marry.
On August 4, a federal judge declared California’s anti-gay marriage amendment, Prop. 8, unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution. On August 12, the same court granted a temporary stay, barring same-sex couples from marrying, for now. But in its order, the court noted that it believed that it would be unlikely that the proponents of the amendment would have standing to bring an appeal. The proponents are now seeking an appeal to the federal appeals court.
On August 5, the Mexican Supreme Court upheld the decision of Mexico City to grant same-sex couples the ability to marry. On August 11, the Court ruled that all Mexican states must recognize the marriages of those couples married in Mexico City.
On August 10, the Costa Rica Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to put a referendum on the ballot to bar civil unions for same-sex couples. The court said that the rights of a minority should not be put up for a vote by the majority.
It’s also worth noting that public support for marriage for same-sex couples continues to grow. An August 11 CNN poll (PDF) found that 52 percent of the public believes that lesbians and gay men should have a constitutional right to marry.
The next few months are likely to bring many twists and turns, especially in the California challenge, but it’s pretty clear that it’s just a matter of time before marriage for same-sex couples is legal in all 50 states and much of the rest of the word.
In the meanwhile, I suspect we’re in for more scary ads from NOM predicting the apocalypse. But at this point, it’s got to feel pretty lousy on that bus.