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If you’ve been paying even a little bit of attention to the news this week, you know that the U.S. Supreme Court has been laying out decisions right and left. Wednesday morning brought long awaited decisions on two important cases regarding civil rights for lesbian and gay Americans: the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA, and the Proposition 8 case from California. If you aren’t familiar with these cases, go do a quick google search. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
DOMA was found to be partly unconstitutional and the Court found that Proposition 8 didn’t have standing. But you probably knew all of that already from your google search.
In Anchorage there was a strong showing of supporters of LGBT equality and same-sex marriage. People lined up at the corner in front of the Federal Courthouse, waving signs, rainbow flags and banners. Some of them elicited friendly responses from passing cars in the form of waves or car horns, which kind of got in the way of trying to do an interview.
“I’m celebrating the dismantling of DOMA, the last federal law against gay and lesbian couples on the books,” Drew Phoenix told me. “It’s gone. Fantastic Day. And, of course, the return of marriage equality in California.”
Tina Racy, her partner, and their ridiculously cute dog stood quietly in the back of the crowd. Tina says that the Court’s announcement has prompted some new decisions for her family.
This is a great day for us. We have an adoptive son at home and he believes that we should have the same rights as everybody else, as do we, and we’ve come out here today to celebrate this day. And we are in fact discussing getting married here in a few weeks down in Washington now that DOMA has been shot down.
Nancy Blake and her wife were married over six years ago in Canada, and is proud to say she predicted that the Supreme Court would decide against DOMA before their seventh anniversary. Blake admits that this doesn’t mean big changes in Alaska any time soon, but she thinks it’s a good step forward. She was holding a small sign with deep creases. It said “Marriage is Love, Commitment, Family.” It’s a little beaten-up because it had a long journey.
So, my sister is a school teacher in New York, and I have a seven year old nephew, and so she took him to Washington DC – my brother in law, my sister, and Daniel – and they ended up being there on the day that arguments were being presented in front of the Supreme Court. For my birthday, she sent me this sign that they held. And she’s so excited. She said – today she told me hat she’s so excited to tell Daniel, who’s eight now, that, look, remember that day that we were fighting? We won.
Reverend Michael Burke is the Senior Rector of Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church in Anchorage, as well as one of the founders of Christians for Equality. He declared it a great day to be an American, for many reasons.
It’s a great day for religious freedom for those of us in the faith community, because now we can practice our faith as we believe is right between us and God without the government interfering and telling us who we can and cannot marry in our own churches.
And any LGBT event in Anchorage wouldn’t complete without hearing from ally Scott Kohler, known more popularity by his drag queen persona “Daphne Doall LaChores.” While he was excited about the implications of DOMA and Prop 8, he said that some things shouldn’t change.
It’s really, really important to make sure that we always still peach love, acceptance, and non-judgmentalism. And I don’t know how else to say that. It’s an important motto that I have. And the reality is that there are so many people that are so discriminated upon just for being who they are. It doesn’t matter whether you’re gay, straight, married, bisexual, transgender, black, white, purple – everybody that’s a biped that walks the earth should be treated equally. And that’s where I’m at.
While the barriers to same-sex marriage in other parts of the country have been struck down today, lesbian and gay Alaskans still face a constitutional ban that would need to be overturned. And while that reality of that challenge is well-known to the people gathered to celebrate, that’s still one step closer to equality than they were the day before.