Marriage equality makes headway

Marriage equality in the U.S. has enjoyed several milestones so far this year, and NASW has been active in many of these efforts.

Drawing: Rainbow background with same sex couples helping each other climb a wedding cakePresident Obama’s announcement in May that he supports same-sex marriage was the most high-profile development regarding marriage equality, but there have been other advancements as well. The following is a summary of recent marriage equality activity and NASW’s involvement:

On June 5, a federal appeals court in San Francisco declined to reconsider a ruling striking down Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The action is expected to result in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Through the work of the NASW Legal Defense Fund, or LDF, NASW and its California Chapter worked with a coalition to file an amicus brief in 2011 in the appeal of a legal challenge to Proposition 8. In February, the court ruled the ban as unconstitutional.

On May 31, the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was struck down as unconstitutional in a ruling by the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Massachusetts v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

NASW LDF joined the American Psychological Association and others in filing an amicus brief in the case. The brief asserts that empirical research shows psychological and social aspects of committed relationships between same-sex partners closely resemble those of heterosexual partnerships. It adds that there is no scientific basis to conclude that gay and lesbian parents are any less fit or capable than heterosexual parents in raising healthy and well-adjusted children.

On May 9, President Barack Obama announced his personal support of same-sex marriage. NASW issued a statement that applauded his announcement and cited the numerous efforts of the association to advance equal rights for the LGBT community.

Josephine P. Tittsworth, NASW national board member and chairwoman of the NASW National Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, said she looks forward to having the U.S. Supreme Court weigh in on the constitutionality of banning same-sex marriage.

“I hope that the U.S. Supreme Court realizes the importance to strike down the only law that blatantly legalizes discrimination,” she said. “Gay, lesbian and bisexual people have the same hopes, dreams, desires and wants for family, just as any other person in our wonderful country.”

The NCLGBT will continue to address the importance of human rights and dignity of all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

“These announcements help to keep the conversation alive so that we can enter into the discourse of human rights,” Tittsworth said. “We, as a committee, will continue to look at the NASW programs, policies and practices to ensure that equality will remain in the forefront of our conversations.”