It's been an historic week at the U.S. Supreme Court with important rulings on same-sex marriage and voting rights protections.
Tuesday's court decision to strike down key provisions of the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a step backwards and will have the effect of denying many of our fellow Americans the right to vote. Unfortunately, there are still county elections officials in parts of the United States that engage in practices which make it more difficult for some citizens to vote. That is unacceptable. Hopefully, Congress will correct this issue as soon as possible.
The Supreme Court's decision on Wednesday to overturn the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a victory for equality for all Americans. It finally begins to recognize the fact that marriages between same sex couples deserve to be treated equally to marriages between a man and a woman.
While the Court did not specifically get to the substantive merits of the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 (which banned same-sex marriages), its decision, on procedural grounds, essentially opens the door for same-sex couples to once again marry in our state including in Contra Costa County.
The Contra Costa County Clerk's Office is already taking steps to prepare for what could be a rush of couples ready to take their marriage vows; however, implementing the court ruling is expected to take a little time. Please check the Clerk's website
for the most recent updates on this issue. Right now, it appears that the California Department of Public Health, as the agency responsible for setting marriage licensing guidelines, may not allow counties to issue same-sex marriage licenses until later in July. As on past occasions, I'll be setting up times when I can officiate marriage ceremonies in my District One office in El Cerrito for the convenience of West County residents.
Check back on my website
for further information.
The impact of these two court decisions underscores the importance of who is appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Their decisions have dramatic impacts on our everyday lives.