Many gay Americans recently watched with fascination the reality show concerning the Cheney family and Mary Cheney's marriage to her spouse, Heather Poe. Particularly during the holiday season, it was agonizing to witness this all-too-familiar melodrama being played out in the media. In this case, Tolstoy was wrong: each unhappy family is not unhappy in its own way. In fact, almost every gay person of my and previous generations has experienced this type of painful conflict with at least one close family member at some point in their lives, all too often over turkey and pumpkin pie.
And while Liz Cheney, who is running for a Senate seat in Wyoming, made it clear on a news show that she loves her sister and her sister's family, the issue has moved beyond personal feelings. In its decision declaring the key section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional last June, the Supreme Court characterized Mary Cheney's marriage as "a far-reaching legal acknowledgment of the intimate relationship between two people, a relationship deemed ... worthy of dignity in the community equal with all other marriages." For purposes of federal law, gay married couples have the same access to the rights and obligations of marriage as straight married couples. In other words, it's no longer just about love, it's now the law. â¨
The 5-4 decision in Windsor was a victory not only for my client Edie Windsor, but for millions of other Americans. From the very beginning, our motto in the case was that "it was all about Edie, stupid." We believed that the best way for people to clearly see the important legal issues involved was through the lives of real people, like Edie Windsor and her late spouse, Thea Spyer.â¨ Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg clearly agreed. In a recent speech, she described Edie's 44-year relationship with Thea as a "grand partnership."
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