And of course, Thursday night in Virginia, District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen all but wrote that "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice"—if she didn't write that, she may have given us a new refrain in the fight for justice when she wrote that "We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect." Can't you just see that on signs held outside the Supreme Court when the next marriage equality case reaches that chamber?
- Utah: In the first of the five decisions siding with marriage equality, Judge Robert Shelby struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages, holding that “[t]he Constitution protects the Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights, which include the right to marry and the right to have that marriage recognized by their government.” He dismissed the suggestion that states rights can somehow trump these fundamental rights — “the Fourteenth Amendment requires that individual rights take precedence over states’ rights where these two interests are in conflict.”
- Oklahoma: Less than a month after the Utah decision, Judge Terence Kern sided with marriage equality in Oklahoma. “Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed,” Kern wrote, “It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights.”
- Ohio: An Ohio case that began with a man in the terminal stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease who wants to die knowing that his own death certificate will list his husband as his “surviving spouse,” led to Judge Timothy Black holding that Ohio may not discriminate against same-sex couples who legally marry in another state, at least with respect to death certificates. Although Judge Black’s opinion is fairly narrow in scope, his opinion strongly hints at broader implications — “once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away, because the right to remain married is properly recognized as a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.”
- Kentucky: On Wednesday, Judge John G. Heyburn held that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Notably, Judge Heyburn is a George H.W. Bush appointee who once served as Special Counsel to future Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
In any case, the arc on this subject is bending ever more sharply toward justice.