The Washington Post By William N. Eskridge Jr. Friday, December 3, 2010
Is Christmas coming early for America's gay community?
In an odd bit of scheduling, the nation's two biggest anti-gay-discrimination fights are in the spotlight at about the same time. On Tuesday, the Pentagon issued the report of its "don't ask, don't tell" study commission, which supported a repeal of the 1993statute that excludes openly gay people from military service. The Defense Department is now on record as saying that the law has outlived its usefulness and that allowing gay people to serve openly would not undermine national security.
On Dec. 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit will hear an appeal in the California same-sex marriage case Perry v. Schwarzenegger, in which the trial judge ruled that excluding lesbian and gay couples from civil marriage laws is unconstitutional. If the appeals court agrees, the Supreme Court will almost certainly grant a review; if the justices went along, same-sex marriage would be constitutionally required in all states.
The fight to end national discriminations against gay people features the ACLU and other stalwart progressive voices, but they are joined by a remarkable range of people. Ted Olson, solicitor general under President George W. Bush, will help argue the case for same-sex marriage in Perry, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense are both calling for repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law.