The Supreme Court Wednesday struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act — which denied federal benefits to married gays and lesbians—as discriminatory and a violation of equal protection.
The court, however, declined to address the question raised by another important case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, about whether the right to marriage extended to gays and lesbians nationwide.
So, are supporters of marriage equality better off without the Supreme Court declaring that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry?
Most Americans now back same-sex marriage, according to a recent poll, with younger voters the strongest supporters. A majority also believes, however, that the decision to recognize same-sex unions should be left up to individual states. As more states pass laws recognizing same-sex unions, some marriage equality supporters argue that advocates “shouldn’t mess with progress.” Or they worry about a backlash if the court were to recognize a right to marriage equality that would apply in all 50 states.
Regardless of whether it is sound political strategy to “take it slow,” the fact is “letting the states decide” is not what the Constitution demands.