What Could the Repeal of DOMA mean for Philly?

You may not want to send out your menvitations just yet.

On March 26 and 27, the Supreme Court will hear challenges to California’s Prop 8 and consider oral arguments in a case that challenges the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). If DOMA, in particular, is repealed, that means the federal government would finally recognize same-sex unions, granting married gay couples all the rights enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts. So this begs the question: Does this mean LGBTQ couples living in a state that hasn’t legalized gay marriage (ahem, Pennsylvania) could get married in, say, New York or Maryland, and still be recognized by the government when they get back home?

“It’s not going to affect us at all, I’m sad to say,” says David Rosenblum, legal director at local LGBTQ health-and-wellness bastion Mazzoni Center. “If they overturn Section 3 (the clause that defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman) that will only go into effect for the nine states that allow same-sex marriage.”

But don’t get all bummed out just yet. “There is a chance that, when hearing Prop 8, it’s decided there’s a fundamental right to marry. That could overturn laws in other states — but it’s a long shot.” To back up this opinion he cites 1967’s Loving v. Virginia case, the landmark civil rights decision that struck down Virginia’s law to prohibit interracial marriage, subsequently invalidating laws that prohibited interracial marriages nationally.

“What we’re really looking for are ways to attack state DOMAs,” and the Supreme Court’s decision in March could inspire that to happen. “So don’t go picking out your wedding dress so soon,” he laughs, but there’s hope.

More on the repeal of DOMA and how it could affect Philly: