While April 28, 2015 will always be impactful, about two years before that, so 2013, I was already wondering what would happen when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Windsor case. Edie Windsor’s case began with her having to pay over $300,000 for inheritance tax on her wife’s Estate, as under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Federal Government did not recognize a marriage between two same-sex persons. Her wife, Thea Spyer, had died in 2009 and it took until 2013 for the case to make its way up to and be ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court.
So in March of 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Windsor case and while waiting for that decision to come down I know myself, and many others, were waiting to see how the Justices would rule. As a matter of fact at the point I have filed the first same-sex bankruptcy filing in Kentucky and the ruling on that being able to go forward (while my clients were paying the Court to pay the creditors, even knowing their filing could be thrown out) was being held, per my Motion and the Judge’s ruling, until the Windsor case was decided.
The day the Windsor case was ruled on, June 26, 2013, the ruling held the language of DOMA was unconstitutional. As we were reading it, attorneys across the Country felt that the U.S. Supreme Court was stating that they weren’t asked to rule on the legality of the same-sex marriage in the Windsor case, so someone needed to file that case.
For Kentucky that person who filed the case, with of course help from others, was me. We waited for the 30 days to run on the time for the case to be appealed, while other attorneys did not, and filed immediately. So, on July 26, 2013, the Fauver Law Office filed Franklin v. Beshear and Bourke v. Beshear. Due to an issue with me filing the case in the Eastern District (as I had not filed under my maiden name there before), the Bourke case became the first case (and we later added the Franklin case and the Love case to the Bourke case).
As you can see from the fact that the Windsor case took from 2009 to 2013, the fact that our cases made it to the U.S. Supreme Court in under two years, that was unusually fast.
On April 28, 2015, the cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee (as they are all part of the same Circuit, the Sixth Circuit, in the Federal Courts) were heard on two matters. 1. Do the States have to recognize same-sex marriages from other States? and 2. Do the States have to issue same-sex marriage licenses?
To me, two things, stick out from that day more than anything. First, seeing and talking to all the people who came from all over the country to wait in line for days to be there and show their support of our clients. Second, walking out of the Supreme Court with all the Plaintiffs and attorneys and the crowd cheering. It made me cry and still moves me to tears, to know that what we did touched so many people and how filing my first Civil Rights case, when I was told not to, would take me to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In case anyone missed the ruling on June 26, 2015 (exactly two years after the Windsor ruling), marriages between two adults, of any gender, is marriage.
Love Won that day thanks to many cases before it and became the law of the land on June 26, 2015.
FYI SCOTUS stands for the Supreme Court of the United States.