By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
US Rep. Jerrold Nadler will be getting one of the prime speaking slots at a pro-gay marriage rally to take place on March 24, two days before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the issue of same sex unions.
Nadler (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan), whose congressional district includes parts of Red Hook, Sunset Park, Borough Park, Kensington, Bensonhurst and Gravesend, will be speaking at the rally in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village at 2 p.m.
“He’s been a leader on this issue for over a decade. And we love him for it,” Cathy Marino-Thomas, a leader of Marriage Equality USA, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Marriage Equality USA is one of more than a dozen groups working together to sponsor the rally. Prior to the rally, same sex marriage supporters will march from the famous Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street to Washington Square Park. The Stonewall Inn is considered the birthplace of the gay rights movement. In 1969, gay patrons of the bar rioted against police trying to arrest them for being homosexual.
While same sex marriage is legal in New York and in a handful of other states, there is no protection nationwide for same sex couples, according to advocates.
On March 26, the US Supreme Court will begin hearing two days of arguments against the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8. DOMA defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Proposition 8, approved by California voters in 2010, outlaws same sex marriage in that state.
DOMA unfairly denies federal protections such as Social Security, veterans’ benefits, health insurance and retirement savings to committed same-sex couples who are legally married in their own states, according to the rally’s organizers.
National Public Radio reported that most polls have found that Americans support same sex marriage in increasing numbers.
Proposition 8 was found to be unconstitutional by a federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals because it violates the concept of liberty and equal treatment under the law, pro-same sex marriage activists said.
Nadler was part of a group of more than 200 congress members who field an amicus brief to the Supreme Court calling for the elimination of DOMA.
“Today, thousands of committed same-sex couples are needlessly suffering because of unequal treatment under our immigration laws, and this is an outrage,” Nadler said.
“Our Constitution guarantees that no class of people will be singled out for differential treatment and LGBT Americans must not be excluded from that guarantee,” said Nadler ranking member of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution.
In one court case involving Edith “Edie” Windsor, the federal government taxed her more than $363,000 when her spouse, Thea Spyer, died in 2009. The couple, constituents of Nadler’s, first met in 1965 and married in 2007, after an engagement that lasted more than 40 years.
When Spyer died, the federal government treated the couple as complete strangers because of DOMA, significantly reducing Windsor’s inheritance by denying her protections from the estate tax that other married couples receive.
Windsor, who is now 83 years old, challenged DOMA in court as a violation of equal protection.