Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Two different marriage bans, both wrong

By Donna Brazile, CNN Contributor
updated 7:48 AM EDT, Wed June 12, 2013
A same-sex couple exchange wedding rings at their marriage ceremony.
A same-sex couple exchange wedding rings at their marriage ceremony.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 46 years ago, the Supreme Court struck down a ban on interracial marriage
  • Donna Brazile: Supreme Court can knock down another unconstitutional barrier
  • Court must rule gays, lesbians are entitled to same rights as everyone else, she says
  • Brazile: Justices can stand up for equality by striking down bans on same sex marriage

Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pot in America." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000.

(CNN) -- Today is the 46th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared unconstitutional any ban on interracial marriage. More than four decades after the historic and aptly named Loving decision, the U.S. Supreme Court is once again poised to rule in a case that could put an end to discriminatory bans prohibiting marriage, this time for gay and lesbian couples.

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in a decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, a case brought by two California couples challenging the constitutionality of the state's ban on same sex marriages, commonly called Prop 8. Attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies -- a Republican and Democrat best known for battling each other before the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore -- have teamed up and taken the Perry case beyond California.

Donna Brazile
Donna Brazile
Supreme Court looks at same-sex marriage
Isn't France liberal on sexual issues?

Olson and Boies argued before the justices that the Supreme Court has the obligation under the Constitution to strike down not just Prop 8, but all state laws banning marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans. After all, they say, this is precisely how the court ruled in Loving -- and 13 other cases dating back to 1888 in which a majority of the justices stood up to protect the fundamental right of every American to marry the person he or she loves.

A broad ruling in the Perry case this month would be a historic step forward in affirming that gay Americans are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. Although I firmly believe public opinion is irrelevant to the court's responsibility to ensure equality under the law, our nation is clearly ready to embrace marriage equality.

When the Supreme Court struck down interracial marriage bans in 1967, a Gallup poll found that only 20% of Americans approved of such marriages. But the court fulfilled its duty to protect individual rights without regard to what was popular.

Today, we have already have evolved much further on marriage equality. A growing bipartisan majority of voters -- 58% -- support marriage rights for same-sex couples.

When Richard Loving told his lawyer to "tell the court I love my wife," he could not have known that his words would still be applicable 46 years later in the very same courtroom. There is never a wrong time to stand up for justice and equality, but the time has never been more right to stand up for gay rights than in the Perry case.

As the Supreme Court weighs equality for gay and lesbian couples, the anniversary of Loving provides a timely reminder of a new legacy they could write for the history books.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Donna Brazile.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 5:48 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT