In a press conference Friday in Ferndale, Kary Moss was joined in celebration by Michigan LGBT civil rights leaders for a victory she called "historic." Moss, the director of the Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), was, of course, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, the consolidated case from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals concerning state bans on marriage between same-sex couples.
Cited by Aftab Borka in the Oakland Press' "Civil rights activists, gay couples celebrate 'historic' decision by SCOTUS," she said, "I think we need to call June 26 LGBT Equality Day." Moss, also a lecturer at the Ford School, named two other federal cases concerning LGBT rights that have been decided on June 26. In 2003 the Supreme Court struck down a Texas sodomy law in Lawrence v. Texas, and in 2013 declared section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in United States v. Windsor. "And this is the day, today, that marriage equality is legal in all of the states of the land," she added.
But Friday's decision was no surprise to the ACLU of Michigan's top lawyer. While the organization was not a party to the Michigan case, DeBoer v. Snyder, they have followed and supported developments across the 6th circuit and the nation. Speaking to the Detroit Free Press in October 2014, Moss said that the Supreme Court had signaled that they were comfortable with rulings that have opened the way for same-sex marriage.
“But," Moss noted Friday, "our work is not done... As we look ahead we still live in a state in which it is legal to fire a gay person. We still live in a state that just passed the law that makes it legal to allow an adoption agency to use religion to discriminate.”
Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, she also commented on the timeline of public evolution on same-sex marriage. Not long ago, "people put their lives on the line just to be able to come out to a neighbor, a parent," she reminded readers. "There is no other moment I can think of in which a social justice issue has moved this quickly. It really is historic."
--By Nick Pfost (MPP '15)
Kary L. Moss is a visiting lecturer at the Ford School. She has served as the executive director of the ACLU of Michigan since 1988.