The Supreme Court’s last day of term is June 24, 2013. Among others, there are four big opinions pending: Prop 8, DOMA, Affirmative Action and the Voting Rights Act. I care a great deal about all of those but clearly, the first two affect my family and so many people I love quite directly. And so … I wait.
I’ve been reminded recently of the summer I studied for the Bar exam. Obviously, it was a stressful experience but the real stress came after the exam. Prior to that, I was studying constantly. I ate, slept and breathed legal analysis and practice exams. The night after the second day, when it was all over, was dreadful, which caught me a little off guard at the time. Suddenly, after weeks and weeks of non-stop studying, I had nothing to do. But wait. For almost two months. When they would finally post who passed. When I look back on that summer, the thing that stands out the most isn’t the misery of studying, it’s the first week afterward.
That feeling resonates with me now. As an attorney, I analyzed the Prop 8 and DOMA cases both before and after the oral arguments. Full geek disclosure dictates admitting I actually enjoyed that part because nothing brings out the nerd in me like constitutional law. It is my first, and sometimes only, love when it comes to the legal field. But the analysis is done, along with the fool’s errand of predicting a ruling based on oral arguments. All that’s left now is this interminable wait.
I don’t anticipate a far-reaching opinion extending the fundamental right of marriage to same-sex couples. I’m not delusional. So, I’ve tried to approach my anxiety with the question of what is the worst that can happen. Without getting into serious legal analysis, I’ve done that elsewhere, the worst they could do is uphold both Prop 8 and DOMA. Does that affect me? Not directly. It wouldn’t mean same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, it would just mean, in the most elementary sense, that bans against them are constitutional. A distinct difference. It would also mean that the feds won’t recognize those who can marry, but they don’t recognize them now. Neither of those would take away any right I currently have, I suppose, so I try to combat my ever-increasing anxiety with that reminder.
But the truth is, those rulings would validate an insidious discrimination that is very specific to me, to my family and to so many others, and would likely halt any progress currently being made. And further, on a fundamental and personal level, those rulings would feel absolutely demoralizing. Rare that a Supreme Court ruling has the ability to shake me emotionally, but those would. And then, always the worst part, if they go badly we’ll have to explain them to the Divine Miss M, who adores her family and is consistently baffled by those who don’t. She even more consistently asks why people care so much if it doesn’t affect them. I can answer legal questions far more easily than I can answer that one.
As of today, it is less than 20 days until the last day of term. I remind myself that there is a chance the rulings will be good. I hold fervently to a hope that the positive rulings I consider the most realistic will come to fruition. Because in the end, for better or worse, these rulings will affect the hearts of so many of us. When all of this comes to mind, which is frequently right now, my anxiety skyrockets but I take some deep breaths, cross my fingers, pray, send out good mojo, all of those things … and then I wait.