The towering New Hampshire pines are shrouded in mist at 6am. Birdsong fills the air; rabbits play in the backyard. A warm wet summer day breaks like any other. Well, not quite any other. Across the land, across the sea, many awoke early with the same exhilaration they once greeted Christmas morning. Anticipation has been building to this moment for months, and I’ve been swept along by the undertow. But for some the excitement is tinged with anxiety. What if…?
I have a confession. I had to Goggle the acronym SCOTUS a few months ago. I just joined Twitter @davidswatling at the end of last year and wasn’t used to the shortcuts in terminology. I knew DOMA, of course. The Defense of Marriage Act was passed while I was doing a local Amsterdam gay radio show and we talked about it a lot, of course. But I’d lost touch with issues concerning the LGBTQ community in recent years. And in Europe, if the media referred to the Supreme Court of the United States as SCOTUS, almost no one would know what they were talking about. Like me.
But I’m back up to speed. And, like so many of my now 700 Twitter followers, I’ve been on SCOTUS Watch for the past week. Two hours and counting, as I type this. It’s no surprise to me the Chief Justices are waiting until the proverbial Eleventh Hour for this important announcement. Last week when a friend bemoaned yet another day with no decision, I tried to console her with my own theory on when the news would break and why.
It was being said then that the last Supreme Court session before the summer break would be Thursday June 27th – eve of the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. I felt the Court must be well aware of this and were waiting to give their historic decision theatrical impact. “Take it from a drama queen,” I wrote. “High courts are all about the drama!”
I may have been off by a day but I stand by my reasoning. As it happens there is an even better (more dramatic?) connection for choosing June 26th. On this day exactly ten years ago, SCOTUS released its 6-3 decision striking down the Texas sodomy law in the Lawrence v. Texas case, thereby wiping similar statutes from the books in 13 other states. I’m sure media pundits across the country will note this even if the Supreme Court doesn’t make a point of it itself. In just 30 minutes.
The friend I mentioned is California-native Martha McDevitt-Pugh who married her Dutch-Australian partner Lin in Amsterdam shortly after same-sex marriage became legal there in 2001. Together they began the organization Love Exiles to spotlight the plight of bi-national same-sex couples whose relationship and/or marriage in one country was not recognized in another. Martha flew to San Fransisco in October 2004 to join the Marriage Equality Express – a caravan of activists that traveled cross-country to a Washington DC rally, promoting marriage and immigration equality along the way. A radio diary Love Exile on the Road, which we put together upon her return, won accolades from the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.
Recently Martha and Lin applied for and were denied the Green Card necessary for Lin to reside in the States with her wife. Therefore the SCOTUS announcement today has a direct impact on their lives, their future. I can almost feel their nervousness an ocean away. 15 minutes.
Perhaps they’d be less nervous if they read the HuffPost article I saw last night. Infamously conservative and radically right-wing Justice Scalia gave a speech last Friday where he ranted and raved against fellow Justices who he called “moralist judges.” Would he have delivered such a tirade if the decision had been made in his favor? Or am I reading misplaced optimism into all these portents with my own rose-tinted glasses? 5 min.
Impossible to keep up with the #SCOTUS feed on Twitter. I’m not a fast typist when nerves kick in – and kick in they most certainly have. Any minute now.
OMG. 5-4. They did it. DOMA is history!
And… Hasta la vista, Prop 8!
… One Hour Later …
I don’t really have anything more to add. Everything is all over the news on Television & Radio, filling the feeds on Facebook & Twitter. I sent a congratulatory message to Martha and Lin who were married 12 years ago in Amsterdam. Just as I sent warm wishes to my nephew and his new bride who were married yesterday in a tiny village in Alaska. It was worth waiting for #SCOTUS to finally hear that both unions are now seen as equal in the United States. There is certainly more work to be done in other countries, on even more basic LGBTQ issues. But today is one of the good days. Like Christmas.