D.C.'s First Day of Same-Sex Marriage

Celebrations, hand-wringing, and predictions

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Following the Supreme Court's refusal to intervene, Wednesday was the first day same-sex couples could procure marriage licenses in the District of Columbia. There reactions include celebration and hand-wringing from the usual suspects, and attempts to predict what this will mean for same-sex marriage elsewhere.

  • Rejoice  Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward would love to have the government out of marriage entirely, but says, "failing the realization of a libertarian utopia in the nation's capital, it's great that D.C.'s gay families now have the option to get the legal recognition the rest of us already enjoy." To drive home the point, she adds, "In D.C., getting gay married is now almost exactly like buying a handgun."
  • Same-Sex Marriage Really Does Impoverish the Institution  Jennifer Roback Morse of traditional marriage advocacy group the Ruth Institute isn't pleased, looking at the new marriage licenses:
Check it out: people are "legally married." No one has the "status" of bride or groom, husband or wife. The natural concepts of husband and wife have been replaced with a purely legal concept. Thus does the state shove civil society aside.
  • Look What the Diocese Is Willing to Sacrifice  The D.C. Diocese has ended all spousal health benefits responding to the new law--rather than offer benefits to same-sex spouses (refusing to do so now would be illegal), they are choosing to end the program entirely. Heritage's Chuck Donovan is one of several to see the Diocese's decision as a principled stand, a "[sacrifice] for religious liberty":
The idea that major changes in civil society can be implemented without profound clashes of principle is clearly false. Marriage is not an insular institution, even if, as here, it can be insulated to a degree from public policy. The Archdiocese of Washington has asked the Church's adherents to bear the brunt of the new policy, but the coming clash was visible to city officials who chose conflict over compromise.
  • Which Means What, Exactly?  Philadelphia Weekly's Joel Mathis responds to those harping on the Diocese's move: "the fact that some institutions will take extraordinary steps to avoid coming under the law isn't really an argument for or against the soundness of the law itself."
  • Hints for Gay Marriage Elsewhere?  ShortFormBlog's Ernie Smith notes the Supreme Court's decision not to intervene "in a last-ditch effort to stop" the change, and wonders "what that means for the court case currently grinding through in California."
  • Don't Celebrate Just Yet  "The court challenge," observes Adam Serwer at The American Prospect, "was where the real threat to marriage equality in D.C. was always going to come from, and that isn't over yet. I also wouldn't read too much into Roberts' decision yesterday," he cautions. "Depending how the appeal process goes, he may yet get to rule in marriage equality opponents' favor--and marriage rights in D.C. may yet be put to a citywide vote."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.