Equality is beautiful


Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

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76 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    + 1,000,000Report

  2. Avatar Barry says:


  3. Congratulations indeed!Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I am sorry that it took this long. That said, we inch ever closer to not remembering any other way to be.

    Congratulations on having three anniversaries!

    It is wonderful that future same-sex couples will only have to remember two!Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    We’re going to need a date. You know Mrs. Likko is going to want to send you a nice card!Report

  6. Avatar Michelle says:

    Congratulations! Your post brought tears to my eyes, as did the declaration by one of the partners in the California case that he could now ask the man he loved to marry him. The fight isn’t over but today was a big victory.Report

  7. Avatar RTod says:

    Oh my. Bit of dust in the eye at the end there.

    Welcome home, my friend.Report

  8. Avatar rexknobus says:

    I mostly just lurk around here, but I’m a real sucker for a good romance. Thanks for sharing; thanks for your perseverance; thanks for your belief in a better future. And congratulations (eight years too late and one month too early) on your nuptials!Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Ditto. And I’d add thanks to Russell for being a better person than most – Jason K too! – by expressing patience and reason when the future course of their lives is determined by forces almost completely outside their individual control.

      I’d probably beat up a garbage can out of frustration, if it were me.Report

  9. Avatar Francis says:

    A little weepy here. Congrats, and thanks for sharing your thoughts.Report

  10. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Given the ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry, that’s 13 states now that have full marriage equality. That’s getting close to one-third (30.25%) of U.S. citizens who live in jurisdictions with full marriage equality. That’s too many for SSM opponents who are thinking about a Constitutional amendment.

    We’ll be having a toast tonight at the Likko household to celebrate.Report

  11. Avatar zic says:

    Isn’t it fine to feel joy that we, here, all can be embraced in dignity and equality? Isn’t that marvelous?

    To me, it is the Exceptional thing about this nation. Not military might, not political right. All are created equal.

    My brother’s wedding was one of the most moving I’ve ever attended. after 25 years together, their family and friends watched, and at the end, an indrawn breath, yes, this is right. After 25 years, this is proper and joyful, and that breath let go, feeling like it had been held, waiting, all those years.

    So must it have been the first time women voted, and former slaves made decisions about their futures. That indrawn breath, the slow exhale, that yes, this is what people have right to. It’s okay to breath deeply, full of the stuff of life.

    Congratulations, Doc. Many blessings on this, and on every day. Wishing many years of wedded life, with all its joys, struggles, rewards, and strife. The whole nine yards. A richness of breath drawn equal.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Just spoke with my brother. He says economically, this is a very big deal; between $80 and $100 in their weekly take-home pay. And an even bigger deal in retirement, when they’ll be able to collect based on survivor benefits should one outlive the other.Report

  12. Avatar Chris says:

    Between what happened in Texas last night, and this, I’ve been in a good mood all day. Congratulations!Report

  13. Avatar Cletus says:

    Congratulations and the very best to you and yours.

    As goes the date of remembrance, I fear there may be at least one more coming up. Section 3 of DOMA still stands but Section 2, the section violating the Constitutional requirements of Full Faith And Credit, has not yet been ruled on and many states still have their laws and state constitutional amendments banning equal marriage. The fight is not yet over.Report

  14. Avatar Mike Schilling says:


  15. Avatar Maribou says:

    Dammit, self, no crying at work.

    *deep breath*

    Love to you and your whole family, my friend, on this historic day.Report

  16. Avatar DBrown says:


    As one of the pro-voters in Maryland, I am very happy for you and those in the other States can now get some of the benefits they earned; this is another step towards creating a more equal society. Best wish’s.Report

  17. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Mazel Tov to the United States! Mazel Tov for getting one step closer to liberty and justice for allReport

  18. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    A great day.

    Fear and ignorance are on the run and are running out of states to hide. Not soon enough, but soon.

    Love has loosed the lightning of her terrible swift sword. And the truth is marching on.Report

  19. Congratulations, Russell and to everyone. I wish my home state of Colorado had gay marriage so my sister and her partner of 33 years could get married (and I wish Illinois would quit dragging its feet on the issue).Report

  20. Congratulations. Great post, too.

    I’d try to add something, but it would mostly be picking around the edges about standing, tiered scrutiny, how to think about social conservatism in defeat, and other miscellany. There will be another time for all that.Report

  21. Avatar KnittingNiki says:

    Oh happy day!! With love and the biggest smile…..Report

  22. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Mazel tov! Before I reached out today (and I knew I would be), I was on the edge of my seat hoping it’d be in a positive fashion. Couldn’t be happier for ya, brah.Report

  23. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    I am so ignorant about DOMA as a law. Can someone explain to me how things will work now that parts of it are invalidated?

    If Jones and Smith marry in CA, and then move to TX, where they file a federal tax return, they can file the federal return jointly now, yes? But they will still have to file their state return as individuals. Correct?

    And if Jones and Smith are federal employees, their employer will treat them as married, in terms of health benefits and the like, but the same won’t be true if they are employed by state or municipal government. Is that right? The same will be true of private employers in the state, who will not have to treat Jones and Smith as married for purposes of benefits or hospital visitation if they don’t want to, right?

    What about Obamacare under the federally created exchanges in some states? Will gay couples have an easier time being deemed members of the same household now that the federal government recognizes them as married. Or am I out to lunch?Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      That’s a good question that I don’t know that I can answer. Texas is a bad example because Texans don’t have to file state returns (no income tax). But let’s say Louisiana. Until or unless Full Faith and Credit is determined to be applicable, or Louisiana decides otherwise, that Louisiana tax returns would not be considered “joint”.

      I think you are right about federal vs state employees, though the feds could pressure the states into extending benefits.

      I think for health insurance, it’ll be dependent entirely on the laws of the state (again, unless FFC is applied). So in California you could, in Louisiana you could not. Might be different for Medicaid.Report

      • An acquaintance of mine who works for the city of Chicago has told me that even before Illinois legalized civil unions, the city provided health benefits for domestic partners, regardless of sex. If he’s correct, then there’s that complicating factor, too, at least as applied to health benefits for some municipal or state jobs.Report

    • If Jones and Smith marry in CA, and then move to TX, where they file a federal tax return, they can file the federal return jointly now, yes? But they will still have to file their state return as individuals. Correct?

      Yes, that’s correct. Section 2 is still in force, and it says that states are not compelled to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.

      Worse, section 2 is probably still good law constitutionally speaking. I thought for a long time that section 3 was unconstitutional, but section 2 has some solid precedents to it. Marriage isn’t necessarily governed by the Full Faith and Credit Clause. It’s handled under the much looser, non-constitutional legislative principle of comity, in which states are allowed public-policy exceptions to recognition.

      Infamously, one of those was declining to recognize interracial marriages, and that’s what makes me hopeful that section 2 will one day fall. But one could easily craft a legal argument that avoids the history of interracial marriage entirely and still make the case that states aren’t obligated to recognize — DOMA section 2, in other words, is probably superfluous. The law would work that way without it.Report

      • You probably know much more than I about this, but I thought “full faith and credit” was synonymous with the idea of comity. If I’m mistaken, then at least I know my error.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Can states deny opposite-sex marriages from other states?Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          They could, though so far as I know none do.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            So states have the right to accept or reject marriages from other states, and presumably a number of them opt to recognize opposite-sex marriages but not same-sex marriages and this remains constitutional?Report

          • Well, not now that anti-miscegenation laws have gone the way of the dodo.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              That’s the only case I know of where it was ever done. First-cousin marriages, 14-year-old brides, etc. were as far as I know never an issue.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              Anti-miscegenation laws were struck down on 14th Amendment grounds, because they require a race-based classification and get strict scrutiny, which they very promptly flunk.

              Other types of refusals may pass, particularly if they are race-neutral; what was destroyed in Loving was a race-based classification system, not the public policy exception as a whole.Report

    • And if Jones and Smith are federal employees, their employer will treat them as married, in terms of health benefits and the like, but the same won’t be true if they are employed by state or municipal government. Is that right? The same will be true of private employers in the state, who will not have to treat Jones and Smith as married for purposes of benefits or hospital visitation if they don’t want to, right?

      Again correct. I’m now a spouse of a federal employee, for example. In the interests of full disclosure, I believe this translates into a significant financial windfall for me as well, but I need to look into that. It’s complicated.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I predict the federal (civilian) rules will be adjusted even faster than the military ones, and Secretary Hagel yesterday said that the DoD will start making no distinction between any flavor of marriage for military personnel, once the Pentagon bureaucratic boa digests this new critter.Report

        • I wonder: if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were still law, would the DOMA ruling have overturned it?Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            I don’t think so. The part that was overturned (section 3) just amended the Dictionary Act*. Sexual preference is a different thing still not a protected class afaict, and even it were (or is, and I’m reading wikipedia wrong), the military had (or still has) some carve outs from civil rights discrimination laws (for example, the women in combat units exclusion, now being dismantled administratively – though I think there is or was a case working its way through on that matter).

            * Chapter 1 Title 1 of the US code per wikipedia – I didn’t noah there was a Dictionary Act before reading the judgementReport

            • Thanks for the response. I hadn’t heard of a “dictionary act” before, either.

              I imagine the women-in-combat thing is one of those policies that could pass muster under intermediate scrutiny (not that I’d agree with banning women from combat positions), while, to me, banning gays seems much less defensible.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Kolohe is correct. The majority opinion does use a sort of suspect-class analysis, akin to other civil rights cases, but the suspect class it addresses amounts to “people who lawfully entered a same-sex marriage in a state where those marriages are permitted.”

                This does many things; most notably it dodges the question of whether gays and lesbians are a suspect class. There’s no need at all for sexual orientation to play a role here — even a heterosexual who entered a same-sex marriage would be part of the suspect class for this ruling, for example. (Or a bisexual, which matters quite a lot in fact!)

                But it also means that the ruling doesn’t touch anything outside of those marriages.Report

              • Thanks, Jason.

                I have one quibble: if it comes to establishing orientation as a suspect class, I imagine it would be “sexual orientation” in general and not “gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.” In other words, under a new suspect class re orientation, it would theoretically be suspect to pass a law that discriminates against straights.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                I have a question too. Am I correct in that ‘protected class’ is a legislative construction (produced by the CRA, ADA, etc), while ‘suspect class’ is a judicial one? (the only one I remember them talking about in our EEO for managers courses were protected classes).Report

              • Yes. One speaks of a “suspect class” for triggering different standards of judicial review, and not for anything else, I don’t think.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Under Stop and Frisk, being part of the suspect class triggers different standard of all sorts of things.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              It covers both printed dictionaries and those on the webster.Report

    • What about Obamacare under the federally created exchanges in some states? Will gay couples have an easier time being deemed members of the same household now that the federal government recognizes them as married. Or am I out to lunch?

      I think this one may be different. Households could always include multiple unmarried members; marriage isn’t needed to make a household. There’s supreme court precedent on this one too.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 says:

        Hey Jason,

        Great answers. Thank you. I’ve missed seeing you comment around here lately, even though we disagree on a lot.

        One last question:

        What will happen with private employers who have offices and operations in multiple states (where at least one of those states has gay marriage, which includes NY and CA, which means almost all big private companies) with respect to whether they see their gay employees as married for the purposes of benefits (insurance, etc,.)?

        Will large, multi-state employers:

        A.) Recognize gay marriages for any employee who has a marriage certificate from a state that allows gay marriage, regardless of what state their employees are working and living in now, or
        B.) Recognize gay marriages of their employees only if those employees are working in a state where gay marriage is allowed, regardless of whether the employee has a valid marriage certificate from another state that does allow gay marriage.

        I’m guessing most (maybe not all) will just go with option A, for fear of civil suits and bad press. I can imagine an employee working in a state with gay marriage allowance being transferred to a non-gay marriage state and then having his or her spousal benefits cut off and then suing by claiming that the company just did this to force the employee out of benefits, escaping contractual promises. And if the company didn’t take benefits away from married gay employees it transferred from gay marriage states to non-gay marriage states, the employees who had valid marriage licences from gay-marriage states who started working in non-gay marriage states could sue for being capriciously treated differently than other gay married employees working for that company.

        But I don’t know much about the law, so I dunno. Am more interested to hear what others think.Report

        • I’m not a lawyer, but I believe the following is correct.

          First, employers will have to comply with state and federal laws in whatever jurisdiction the employee resides in. The employers’ preferences about recognition are immaterial. (Note that many of them, and almost all large corporations, have created benefits structures that are nondiscriminatory, because discrimination is costly and therefore stupid for them…)

          Second, the need to comply with a patchwork of laws will almost certainly create a lot of interesting court cases in the near future. None of them have a chance of overturning U.S. v Windsor while the current court sits, but they may clarify exactly how to treat different aspects of implementing it, particularly in states where same-sex marriages face a variety of local impediments. I’m thinking particularly of states like Virginia, which even prohibit any arrangements that attempt to replicate marriages.

          It’s new territory, and we will have to wait and see.Report

          • I thought employers had to comply with the laws in which their work site(s) is/are situated, and not with where their employees live. I don’t know, of course, and I imagine certain things (like marriage) operate differently.Report

  24. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    And for the legal-eagles and Kansas City law dogs here, I have another question. On what grounds could an individual challenge the other provisions of DOMA, particularly those saying that states don’t have to recognize gay marriages performed in other states?

    Or does that battle have to be legislative and not legal?Report

  25. Avatar Angela says:

    Congratulations! It’s a wonderful advance, and too late for so many. Another step towards a better country. And most importantly for every loving family.
    Thinking about my own wedding 24 years ago, and the strength, support and joy that followed. Viva gli sposi!!

    And, after yesterday’s horrible decision for voting, it felt like the country was going a step backwards and two steps sideways. But with this today, a strong step forward.

    And I’m sure this will help Illinois finally get it passed here!Report

  26. Avatar James K says:

    Today is a good day.Report

  27. Avatar Darwy says:

    I’m very, very happy that finally, gay couples can have the same rights that my husband and myself enjoy.

    It’s about goddamned time.Report

  28. Thanks, everyone, for the lovely comments and best wishes.Report

    • Avatar A Teacher says:

      So, on your list of banal tasks for getting married, did you two do the Register thing? If you didn’t the first time you owe it to your friends to do it this time around. 🙂

      And don’t be shy. On a whim we registered for a PS2 and would you believe my buddies from HS chipped in and got us one, complete with a dozen games. I know you probably have everything you need but sending a wedding present is kinda something some of us like to do.Report

  29. Avatar aaron david says:

    Congrats Doctor!Report

  30. Avatar Zane says:

    Beautiful post! Happiness to you and your family!

    I hope Ohio will soon catch up the “free states” on this issue. (Quoting a man from Tennessee interviewed on NPR yesterday.)Report

  31. Avatar Mary G says:

    I’ve never met you, but feel like I know and like you and I am so happy for you. I couldn’t believe that Prop 8 passed here in California, though what little TV advertising campaign against it that aired was dreadful and a huge effort by the opposition – they bussed in a bunch of high school kids to demonstrate at our biggest freeway on- and off-ramps for weeks. I have always felt bad that I didn’t do more in 2008. Now my beloved state is back on the side of the angels and I don’t have to miss weddings because it’s so hard for me to travel!

    Congratulations! I’m sure you will continue to have a lovely life together with your family. There is something about going to City Hall to get that piece of paper that sort of puts the cherry on the top of the sundae.Report

  32. Avatar Dave says:


  33. Avatar DRS says:


  34. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    I’m happy for you and your spouse, happy for Jason and Boegiboe, and happy for so many other people I’ll never know who will now have the wonderful privilege of taking for granted all the benefits of marriage that I have for so long taken for granted. And now we continue to move forward in those states where we have not yet achieved marriage equality.Report

  35. Avatar Glyph says:


  36. When I heard the news, your family was one of many on my mind. Huzzah!Report