SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 14: Same-sex couple Molly McKay (R) and Davina Kotulski (L) request a marriage license from San Francisco County Clerk director Karen Hong Yee on February 14, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Close to a dozen same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses were arrested after they staged a sit-in demonstration inside the office of San Francisco's county clerk. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Pres. Obama's Justice Department announced Wednesday that they would no longer ask courts to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, a 90s-era bill that prevents the federal government from recognizing gay couples' marriages.
Although tens of thousands of gays are legally married in states like California, Iowa, and Connecticut, the federal government considers them "just friends." That translates into hardships like extra tax burdens, a risk of deportation for bi-national couples, the inability to sue for wrongful death, and over a thousand other things.
Meanwhile, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is leading the charge against Prop 8, has asked that California's own marriage ban be lifted while the courts consider its legality. Prop 8 has already been declared unconstitutional, but weddings can't resume until appeals have been exhausted.
In response, the anti-gay industry has dug in its heels to denounce the country's shift towards equality. Last week, the National Organization for Marriage's Maggie Gallagher claimed that if gay couples are allowed to marry, then straight couples' children will be "produced in circumstances in which their mother and father are not pre-committed to caring for them."
Her argument -- if you can call it that -- is that marriage gives straight parents a reason to care for their offspring, and that marriage can only exist if it excludes gay people.
Another anti-gay leader, Kevin Smith, claimed that "the sky didn't fall" when voters banned marriage. That may be a tough claim to swallow for gay couples facing deportation, losing their homes, or unable to access their partners' medical coverage.
Meanwhile, equality groups celebrated the shift in policy, with an impromptu rally in the Castro yesterday afternoon.
DOMA's not dead yet -- it's likely to be defended now by a handful legislators in Congress. They've been coordinating behind the scenes for the last few weeks with the National Organization for Marriage, a group funded by a small group of anti-gay millionaires.