Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

In Pride message, CA Senator Feinstein calls for pro-gay marriage ruling

Senator Dianne Feinstein

          Senator Dianne Feinstein

Back in 2004 California’s senior U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein faced criticism from LGBT activists when she spoke out against then-Mayor Gavin Newsom’s decision to marry same-sex couples in violation of state law.

Her calling Newsom’s move “too much, too fast, too soon,” led to Feinstein’s being given a Pink Brick award by the city’s Pride committee that June.

Eleven years later Feinstein, in her 2015 Pride month statement, is now calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage across the country. The nation’s highest court, as soon as this coming Monday, June 8, could issue its decision in the marriage equality case known as Obergefell v. Hodges.

“Marriage equality is now the law of the land in 37 states. This month, the Supreme Court could ensure once-and-for-all that legal marriage is available to all loving, committed couples in this country,” stated Feinstein, whose office  issued her statement to commemorate LGBT Pride Month today (Thursday, June 4). “If the court rules favorably, as I very much hope it will, it will send a strong message of equality under the law for married gay and lesbian couples and their children. I believe most Americans now recognize that this is simply the right thing to do.”

Like a majority of Americans, whose support of marriage rights for same-sex couples is now above 60 percent in recent polls, Feinstein’s evolution on the issue has been just as swift. Four years after the first marriages took place in San Francisco, Feinstein appeared in television ads in the fall of 2008 urging Californians to reject Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that defined marriage in the Golden State as between a man and a woman.

“Even when I went into political life, that was the way it was. It takes time,” Feinstein told the Bay Area Reporter in 2012. “I think as you know more people, and know more people who are happily married, our views change.”

Following Prop 8’s  passage, thus reversing the California Supreme Court’s ruling in the spring of 2008 to allow same-sex marriage, Feinstein turned her focus to the federal Defense of Marriage Act. She was one of 14 senators who initially voted against the anti-gay law in 1996.

In 2011 Feinstein introduced in the Senate a version of the Respect for Marriage Act aimed at striking down DOMA. She has continued to re-introduce it, as has its House sponsor Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), in order to see the homophobic law be fully repealed.

In 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, which led to the federal government recognizing same-sex marriages. The court’s decision also resulted in the four conjoined cases – from Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky – that the justices now have before them. Officials from the states are seeking to maintain their bans against same-sex marriage.

Even if the court were to strike down the remaining state-level marriage bans this month, its decision will not end the fight for full LGBT equality, as Feinstein emphasized in her Pride statement.

“Despite the incredible progress, much work remains. In many states, LGBT Americans can be fired from their job simply for who they are,” she noted. “Thousands of LGBT youth are homeless or victims of bullying. And LGBT couples who want to adopt children often face barriers.”

Feinstein added, “We must continue the march toward equality for all and I’m proud to stand with the LGBT community as we move forward.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, June 4, 2015 @ 2:09 pm PST
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