Eli Sanders of The Stranger explores the dilemma gay right’s activists face should the WA State Supreme Court toss out our state Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and instruct the Legislature to enact “appropriate remedies.”
Last week, the chief justice of the Washington State supreme court, Gerry Alexander, took the unusual step of setting a timetable for the court’s highly anticipated (and politically explosive) decision on same-sex marriage. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Alexander said the court was aware of the public’s eagerness for a ruling and hoped to decide the marriage case before early March, when this year’s legislative session ends.
The comment immediately set off intense speculation: What did this rare public comment by the chief justice mean? Why would the court be pushing to decide before the end of the legislative session? Does the court’s desire to do so signal a plan by the justices to declare the state’s ban on gay unions unconstitutional and then direct the legislature to come up with an appropriate remedy before the session ends?
That last possibility is one that worries gay rights activists. Like their conservative opponents, they have been spending a lot of time these days thinking about possible decision scenarios and plotting their best political moves given various hypothetical outcomes. And the trickiest outcome is the one in which the Democrat-controlled legislature is told by the court to come up with a law recognizing gay unions. Would legislators have the courage to endorse full equality