During the final week of March, the U.S. Supreme Court dives into a pair of marriage equality cases. Sara Latshaw, regional organizer for the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, is excited about the prospects.
“I think this is a real time for change,” she said.
Latshaw is helping organize a candlelight vigil scheduled before the court gets down to business.
“There’s no way to tell what the outcome will be, but I hope the Supreme Court will make the right decision,” she said. “I’m so hopeful, and I want to see things move in the right direction so badly.”
On March 26, the court will consider overturning California’s Proposition 8. The next day, they will tackle the Defense of Marriage Act.
In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 8, which added a new provision to the state constitution which stated “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
The proposition overturned an earlier California Supreme Court ruling, which had found that same-sex couples did have the right to marry. In 2010, the measure was challenged in court, found to be unconstitutional and overturned. The decision was appealed, upheld, and again appealed, this time to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Defense of Marriage Act—or DOMA—passed both houses of congress and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. It defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman. Like Proposition 8, DOMA has weathered the courts and is now headed to the highest in the land.
In 2011, President Barack Obama’s administration let it be known it considered DOMA unconstitutional. The administration would no longer defend it in court.
As the court prepares to hear the two cases, demonstrations of support for marriage equality are being planned around the country. Locally, a candlelight vigil is scheduled for 6 p.m., March 25 in downtown Pensacola’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza.
Jonathan Franqui, who’s husband is stationed locally in the military, will be among the featured speakers at the event.
“We’re lighting the candles to light the way to justice, but it also shows we are here,” Franqui said. “There’s light at the end of it. This is going to be such a powerful moment.”
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