By Paul R. Pace, News Staff
Marriage equality in the U.S. has enjoyed several milestones so far this year, and NASW has been active in many of these efforts.
President 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.”
- NASW’s work on LGBT issues: www.socialworkers.org/diversity/new/lgbt.asp
- The NASW same-sex marriage fact sheet: www.socialworkers.org/diversity/lgb/samesex-factsheets.pdf
- NASW LDF Legal Briefs:www.socialworkers.org/ldf/brief_bank
- Blog celebrating President Obama’s stance on gay marriage: www.socialworkblog.org/practice-and-professional-development/2012/05/same-sex-marriage
NASW News blog exclusive: additional comments to this story from Eleni A. Carr, NASW national board member and a member of the NASW National Committee on LGBTI.
NASW News: What are some of your hopes as a result of these recent events?
Carr: I would like to see our national policies and laws changed to ensure the equal rights of GLBT people. That is the bottom line. We either are granted our civil rights or we continue to await them and every day that passes is another day where GLBT people are being discriminated against. Although I don’t consciously think about it every day, I am discriminated against every day, even here in Massachusetts. Whether I am paying more taxes because I cannot file jointly with my spouse or an additional fee for health insurance because my marriage isn’t recognized federally, I am experiencing the effects of a second class citizenship regularly. And every day, a gay or lesbian couple somewhere is experiencing a divorce, a life-threatening illness or a death in the family or any number of serious life events where they are simply not protected under the law as are our heterosexual counterparts. This is not only unconstitutional. It is unconscionable.
NASW News: Any additional thoughts?
Carr: I think we are rounding the corner on these issues legally but we have to “bring it home.” Until we do, we are all diminished by the inequalities that we perpetuate. If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem. President Obama is committed to being a part of the solution. His is the first president that is shining a light on this dark part of our national consciousness long enough to make the changes necessary to live up to our credo that we all are created equal and deserve to be treated equally under the law.
From the July 2012 NASW News.