My latest op-ed, title above, appeared in The Virginian-Pilot Friday. While the topic is DOMA, the title is derived from this Emily Dickinson poem included in it:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
Virginia is among the states that adopted amendments defining marriage. And it also has, by law, adopted language that prohibits recognition of same sex marriages performed in other states. At least one legislator believes that the ruling in Windsor makes that invalid (emphasis mine):
The way the law stands today, the Supreme Court has not told Virginia that it must legalize gay marriage nor has it said Virginia’s gay marriage ban is constitutional. But it has effectively told Virginia that we must recognize gay marriages created in other states. Virginia’s Constitution specifically prohibits this and puts Section 15-A of the Constitution of Virginia in violation of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Windsor was decided under the 5th Amendment, which, I understand, essentially contains a federal equal protection clause. Loving v. Virginia, the interracial marriage case, was decided under the 14th Amendment, which contains the equal protection clause related to the states.
I had the opportunity a year ago to attend a local screening of the HBO movie, “The Loving Story.” There was a Q&A afterwards with members of the production crew and one of the attorneys who argued the case, Bernard S. Cohen. I spoke with him briefly after the Q&A about gay marriage and he told me, yes, gay marriage would likely be decided under the 14th.
Somebody will challenge Virginia’s law, particularly once the federal government decides how to handle the marriages of those who reside in states that do not recognize them. (That is still up in the air at this point. The question is whether the marriage license follows the people or does the residency control. Expect this to be worked out shortly, as the government is moving quickly in response to the Windsor decision.)
There is definitely reason for hope now.
My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot every week, usually on Thursdays. You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the PilotOnline.com homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot.Follow @vpaige