After tough early questioning by the justices, marriage equality supporters heartened by outcome

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-04-2015-05-2008

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Johno Espejo and Matthew Mansell, a plaintiff couple from Tennessee, outside the Supreme Court on April 28.

Johno Espejo (left) and Matthew Mansell, a plaintiff couple in the marriage equality case, being interviewed outside the Supreme Court.

For Matthew Mansell, one half of a plaintiff couple in Tuesday’s same-sex marriage cases, he will never forget walking into the Supreme Court as the court watchers, attorneys and reporters looked on.

“It just seemed like all eyes were on us,” said Mansell, who was walking alongside his husband Johno Espejo. “It was just awe-inspiring to think that people are staring at us and we’re the ones who are involved in this case.”

It was Mansell’s first trip to the Supreme Court. But below are a few reflections from Jenny Pizer, director of Lambda Legal’s Law and Policy Project, and Evan Wolfson, executive director of the Freedom to Marry, both of whom have been part of the marriage equality movement for decades and also attended the Supreme Court arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.

To Pizer, it felt like the entire marriage movement had relocated to Washington. Waiting in line outside the courthouse to secure a good seat was like “a nonstop series of happy reunions” of people who have worked toward the same goal from different parts of the country.

But when the opponents of marriage equality arrived, Pizer said it was a very different story.

“This morning, when the antis showed up, the signs got bigger and their numbers had gotten smaller. They amplified their volume not by having lots of people, but by having a tiny number of people and megaphones.”

Inside the courtroom, Pizer was initially taken aback by the line of questioning from some of the more liberal justices. In particular, Justice Stephen Breyer queried the proponents’ lawyer, Mary Bonauto, about whether the question of marriage bans should be left to state voters. Pizer recalls:

“We went in thinking, ‘We’ve seen these issues argued before, and the decisions tell us something about how each of these justices think about some of these issues, at least.’ But at the beginning, the questioning was vigorous enough and the unexpected intensity of it … raised the question of, ‘Well, have we been wrong about what we understood about the jurisprudence of some of the justices?’ I don’t take anything for granted with any case and certainly not a case of this magnitude.”

For more courtroom takeaways, head below the fold.

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