I’ve spent most of my free time today reading the court opinions on DOMA and Prop 8, and since I think my last post here was about my thoughts during the hearings, here are some thoughts from the rulings.

First on DOMA, I think it is a ruling I expected and I am happy to have the end outcome be to give power back to the states.

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment. This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is affirmed.

It is so ordered”

I do want to point out however that a part of my heart also agrees with the sentiments of what Saclia closed with in his dissent:

In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one’s political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today’s Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament. We might have covered ourselves with honor today, by promising all sides of this debate that it was theirs to settle and that we would respect their resolution. We might have let the People decide.

But that the majority will not do. Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.”

*note: an interesting write up of Scalia’s dissent can be found here including some of the parts I don’t agree with

As for Prop 8 I believe the court made the only reasonable decision it could; that is that it could not make a decision. This ruling well and truly puts the issue back in the hands of the states, where I believe it should stay. This sets up a lengthy battle in many states to pass legislation of on one side or the other, and it still allows there to be a potential future question around full faith and credit. I do not see this as a victory for civil rights activists the way the media represents it, however as a friend pointed out it is certainly not a defeat. I can honestly say here I believe the courts acted responsibly in not creating their own legislation and in limiting their own power (despite some of Scalia’s voiced fears voiced in the dissent of the DOMA ruling).

I wish that was the message being broadcast on the “breaking news” banners on every media website. A message that this was not a full “victory” and that there is still a long road ahead, a road that may someday be made harder by this decision not easier. Still while my heart may long for the day when all people share the same legal rights despite their differences in religion, my overwhelming feeling today is that of relief. I believe these decisions were steps taken in the right direction, and perhaps most importantly it was done responsibly.