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 12:26 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Jeff Yang says the tech sector's diversity numbers are embarrassing and the big players need to do more.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Ed Bark says in this Emmy year, broadcasters CBS, ABC and PBS can all say they matched or exceeded HBO. These days that's no small feat
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 9:05 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT