FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A Fort Wayne couple married last year is ecstatic about the Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional.
After shedding some happy tears, Monica Wehrle and Harriet Miller immediately planned a dinner party to celebrate.
“We were hoping it would turn out this way, but you didn’t know for sure,” Wehrle said. “It’s very, very good for America. It’s good for Indiana and good for us.”
The couple has been together for 38 years, but they just got married last year when same-sex marriage became legal in Indiana. Now they’re thrilled that their marriage will be recognized in all 50 states.
“What if we were in Ohio before this ruling and I was in the hospital and they don’t recognize that she’s my spouse and deny us that kind of access,” Miller said.
Before Friday’s ruling, 14 states did not allow same-sex marriage. Now, that patchwork policy is gone.
“In an area of law this complex that involves this many rights, you really need that universal law. Both sides of this issue needed this ruling for the certainty of knowing the law across the board, across the country,” Nancy Marcus, the founding constitutional law professor at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, said.
In her dissertation ten years ago, Marcus actually predicted that the Supreme Court would come to this conclusion. She wrote that the ruling would be grounded in the First Amendment right to intimate associations, which is one point mentioned in the SCOTUS opinion.
“There’s freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association and that extends to intimate associations of personal relationships and the court says in this case that this is an intimate association issue. This is someone’s private relationship that the government can’t ban,” Marcus said.
The ruling also said marriage is older than the Bill of Rights and is one of the most fundamental, long-recognized rights in the country.
“The court said there just simply isn’t a rational basis for denying same-sex marriage,” Marcus said.
She added that the LGBT battle for the right to marry mirrors the civil rights arguments in the 1960s.
“It’s the same kind of dialogue we’ve always been hearing. It’s a different context. This time it’s same-sex couples. Last century it was interracial couples, but this is part of the ongoing trajectory toward equal justice and it’s just part of the evolution and progress that our society has to go through to be fair,” Marcus said. “It’s okay that our rights evolve and marriage evolved because we certainly don’t want marriage to be what it was 100 years ago when women were property.”
Wehrle hopes the idea of gay marriage bans will one day become archaic.
“They’ll say how could the prevent people who love each other from getting married,” she said.
Miller sees that mentality already in younger generations.
“My great nieces and nephews are already saying that,” she said. “I don’t get it why is this an issue if people love each other. Why is this an issue? I think we’re already there.”