WNYT.com

LGBT activist: Supreme decision an incredibly big deal

Posted at: 12/10/2012 12:43 AM
Updated at: 12/10/2012 12:47 AM
By: Dan Levy

COLONIE - The U.S. Supreme Court, this coming spring, will be taking a significant look at same sex marriage. The High Court will hear two cases involving the treatment of gay Americans.

One focuses on California's Proposition 8 that forbids same-sex marriage. The other deals with a federal law that denies federal benefits to same sex couples -- benefits that are available to heterosexual couples.

"I think this is the civil rights issue of the millennium, and it needs to be dealt with," says Libby Post, of Colonie, a recent newlywed to her longtime partner.

But even in in New York, one of nine states that currently allows -- or soon will allow -- same-sex marriage, she says the Supreme Court's decision to take on the marriage equality issue, is "an incredibly big deal."

"Over one thousand federal benefits that are available to heterosexual married couples are still not available to us," Post points out. "It's great that we can do it here but what really needs to happen is for marriage to be legal throughout the country so that everyone is treated fairly and treated equally."

The High Court has agreed to look at two questions: whether the federal government can ignore gay marriage in states, like New York, where it's already legal, and second, whether same-sex marriages can be banned by a voter referendum, like in California.

"We're pretty confident that the Supreme Court is going to uphold the right of the people to amend their own constitution to preserve traditional marriage," says Andy Pugno, General counsel for Protect Marriage.

Post believes those opposed to marriage equality have "no real argument, and thinks Justice Anthony Kennedy might be the key.

"I'm pretty confident we have four 'yes' votes. I'm pretty confident we have four 'no' votes. It's going to come down to that one swing vote and, honestly, I don't know if they would have taken the cases just to make it illegal."

If there is anything Post can say with a high degree of certainty, it is that there will be plenty of opposition.

"Unions of two men or two women are not the same things as a marriage between a man and a woman," opines Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage.

"They (opponents) are going to talk about how we're destroying traditional marriage and all I can ask to everybody out there who is in a traditional marriage is: I got married seven weeks ago, has it impacted your marriage at all?" Post asks, "Have you felt the earth move?"

The Court will likely hear oral arguments sometime in March, with a decision expected by late June.