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June 26: Same-Sex Marriage Becomes Law of the Land

Lawrence Bush
June 25, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court’s three Jewish members, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Elena Kagan, joined Sonia Sotomayor and Anthony Kennedy in declaring on this date in 2015, by a 5-4 vote, that outlawing same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Twelve years earlier, also on June 26, the Court said in Lawrence v. Texas that laws outlawing same-sex sex were unconstitutional. And on June 26, 2013, in United States v. Windsor, the Court declared the federal Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) unconstitutional. By executive order, President Obama declared June 26, 2016 to be “National Equality Day,” and has asked Congress to make June 26th a federal holiday. Standing tall among the many activists responsible for the breakthrough on same-sex marriage is Evan Wolfson, the Jewish director of Freedom to Marry. “The change in people’s attitudes on that issue has been enormous. In recent years, people have said, ‘This is the way I am.’ And others looked around, and we discovered it’s our next-door neighbor — we’re very fond of them. Or it’s our child’s best friend, or even our child. I think that as more and more people came out and said that ‘this is who I am,’ the rest of us recognized that they are one of us.” —Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.