Between the Lines: Is it a good day or a bad day?

Some big decisions were made Wednesday in the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Whether it was a good day or a bad day depends a whole lot on your worldview, I guess. And ultimately, whether you truly believe Wednesday’s decisions will somehow positively or negatively affect your life.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and declined to reinstate California’s Proposition 8. As a result, gay marriage will be legal in America’s most populous state, and gay couples legally married in their states will enjoy federal benefits such as joint tax filing and inheritance rights.

David Lias

David Lias

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley issued a press release soon after the ruling to assure fellow South Dakotans that we really shouldn’t notice much of a change here in the Rushmore State.

“After today’s U.S Supreme Court decisions, South Dakota constitution and legislative enactments defining marriage to be between a man and a woman remain in effect as a matter of law,” said Jackley.

In the release, he notes that we South Dakotans set that definition ourselves back in 2006. You could have knocked me over with a feather with that news. I had completely forgotten that we voters approved a constitutional amendment, with 172,242 voting for and 160,173 voting against, that makes marriage valid only between a man and a woman.

Why, exactly, did we do that? I can’t remember why the issue was even brought to a vote. Can you?

It’s sort of a head scratcher today, isn’t it? Especially in 2013, which has been an epic year of progress for gay-marriage advocates. Same-sex marriage is now legal in 13 states, more than double the number from just a year ago.

Thirty percent of Americans now live in a state where gay couples can legally marry, and nearly half live in a state that recognizes gay relationships in some form, be it marriage or civil union. Two of those 13 states are our neighbors, Iowa and Minnesota.

Who knows? Maybe someday we’ll be asked to vote on whether to repeal that 2006 Constitutional amendment. Putting this issue on a ballot again and allowing South Dakota voters to reflect on what marriage means to them would be a fine exercise.

Today’s ruling points out that each state is responsible for defining and regulating marriage. Do South Dakotans still feel the same about marriage as they did in 2006?

It would be interesting to find out someday.

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