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4 Times Female Supreme Court Justices Were Ahead of the Curve on Marriage Equality

4 Times Female Supreme Court Justices Were Ahead of the Curve on Marriage Equality

4 Times Female Supreme Court Justices Were Ahead of the Curve on Marriage Equality

Here's hoping their words ring true come decision day.

Any day now, that vaulted body we call SCOTUS could announce their decision on a landmark case that has the potential to bring marriage equality to all Americans. If Vegas bookkeepers took bets on this sort of thing, my money would be on 6-3 in favor of equality, with Justice Kennedy writing the majority opinion. I'd also be willing to bet that many judges who have ruled in our favor are thinking about their legacy. This is their Brown v. Board, their Loving v. Virginia. They see how the tide is turning, and they are trying to catch the right wave.

In the process, a lot of them are saying and doing some pretty badass things about two ladies' or two dudes' right to matrimony. Here are some favorites:

Elena Kagan, U.S. Supreme Court Justice 

Kagan dismantles the procreation argument with this quote:  "Well, suppose a State said, ... Because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55. Would that be constitutional?"

Also, Kagan may be living in RBG's shadow (as we all are), but she's no slouch. Kagan officiated a same-sex wedding, prompting Bill O'Reilly to call for her recusal from the pending Supreme Court case about marriage equality. Because that's how these things work? 



Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

During a Prop 8 hearing, Sotomayor asked the lawyer defending the law the following question: "Outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits? Or imposing burdens on them? Is there any other decision-making that the government could make -- denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort, any other decision?" The lawyer replied that he had "nothing to offer in that regard," to which she followed up with “If they’re a class that makes any other discrimination improper, irrational, then why aren’t we treating them as a class for this one benefit?” I wasn't there, but I'm pretty sure she dropped the mic at that point.



Sandra Day O'Connor, Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice 

Although she voted to keep sodomy laws in place in 1986, O'Connor eventually did an about face and voted to strike down such laws in Lawrence v. Texas. She was also the first person to officiate a gay marriage in the actual Supreme Court building, which is sort of like giving a giant matrimonial middle finger to The Man.



Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice 

Notorious RBG is the hero we all deserve. Not only has she officiated several gay weddings, she turned the traditional marriage defense on its ear by pointing out heterosexual marriage has already evolved from its traditional roots. "Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition. Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female. That ended as a result of this court's decision in 1982 when Louisiana's Head and Master Rule was struck down. Would that be a choice that state should [still] be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?" For the uninitiated, Head and Master was the name for the codification of gender roles. They were the laws that essentially said it was a woman's place to bear and raise children, and all property and financial decisions were therefore up to the man. And they were still in place up until 1982, which is cute.

That 1982 case redefined civil marriage as America knew it. It's only been 33 years, but here we are again. The speed with which tireless marriage equality advocates have pulled this off is nothing short of breakneck. We still have a lot of issues to work out, of course, but as we wait for SCOTUS to issue their decision, we find ourselves on the cusp of a slightly more egalitarian society. Cross your fingers, hold your breath, and think happy thoughts at the swing vote justices.


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Ellen Wall