Gay rights activists view the recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage as a victory.
In two 5-4 decisions, the Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and effectively put to rest California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage by ruling that its supporters did not have standing to challenge a lower court’s ruling that the measure was unconstitutional.
The total number of states which allow gay marriage is now at thirteen plus the District of Columbia. However, neither Missouri nor Illinois allow same-sex marriage. Missouri has a constitutional ban on gay marriage and Illinois allows for civil unions but not marriage.
St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh talked with a variety of guests to get an understanding of what the Supreme Court’s recent decisions mean locally, both legally and personally, to those affected by the rulings.
A.J. Bockelman is the Executive Director of PROMO, Missouri’s statewide organization advocating for LGBT equality.
“We long for those opportunities to tell our stories,” Bockelman said. “I think what we’re going to see in the next month, quarter (and) year is a playing out of those stories and what it means.”
Bockelman said some Missourians, such as those married in other states, have increased rights because of the Supreme Court’s ruling, however, Missouri’s constitutional ban still creates inequities.
“We are committed to marriage equality in Missouri and seeing it through. We will probably take the next thirty, sixty, ninety days to determine the best paths forward,” Bockelman said. “For example, while we’ve been contacted … about wanting to file lawsuits to overturn [Missouri’s] ban, there are already other lawsuits filed in other states.”
Marsh was also joined by Denise Lieberman, a civil rights attorney and adjunct professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. She teaches a course on sexual orientation law.
Local residents Charlie Robin and Al Fischer also joined the program. Robin and Fischer were married about a year and a half ago in New York. Robin is Executive Director of the Edison Theatre at Washington University and Fischer is the music director of the Gateway Men’s Chorus.
Lastly, Sherrill Wayland, Executive Director of SAGE joined Marsh. SAGE is an organization which advocates for LGBT elders.
Follow St. Louis on the Air on Twitter - @STLonAir