By Candace Kelley
In just a few months, the United States Supreme Court is set to hear four cases that could provide a definitive ruling on whether gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry in every state.
“Faster than anyone expected I think but also gradually piece by piece,” said Garden State Equality Executive Director Andrea Bowen.
Garden State Equality spearheaded efforts that helped pave the way to the legalization of same-sex marriage in New Jersey in 2013, and they are now preparing to make sure the issue gets attention on the federal level.
“We had laid a ton of groundwork doing political organizing and getting people to speak to the legislature about how marriage equality was important,” Bowen said.
The Supreme Court will determine whether or not the 14th Amendment requires states to grant same-sex marriage licenses and if states have to recognize same-sex marriage licenses from other states.
When the Supreme Court took up the same-sex marriage issue, the timing of the decision forced many to speculate about the outcome of the case.
For many advocates of gay marriage, the timing is a signal that the court is finally ready to hand down a 50-state ruling giving a constitutional right to same-sex marriages. In 2013, the court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, paving the way for same-sex marriages in a majority of the states.
But the American Family Association wants Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse themselves from the cases because they have conducted same-sex marriages. But Garden State Equality is confident about the outcome.
“We know the votes are there. We know that Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is the swing vote of the court is a big supporter of LGBT rights,” Bowen said.
Meanwhile, the president of the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage says a decision in favor of gay marriage is not natural.
He says that “Once you take away the natural, traditional definition of marriage of one man and one woman, then there can’t be a bar to certain relationships from age to gender. Cultures of thousands of years have said marriage is between a man and a woman.”
He cites a recent case of a woman who wants to marry her long lost father, then move to New Jersey, where adult incest is legal.
Both sides say they’re ready for the Supreme Court to make a decision.
“It’s going to be reality and we’re going to win this one,” Bowen said.
The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision before the court’s term ends in June.