Two months after the Supreme Court struck down key elements of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), opening the way for full legalization of homosexual partnerships as equal to marriage, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated at a same-sex wedding ceremony in Washington, D.C. The Associated Press reported that Ginsburg officiated August 31 at the “wedding” of Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser and his homosexual partner, identified as government economist John Roberts. The event took place at D.C.'s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where Ginsburg, an opera lover, is a frequent guest.
“Michael Kaiser is a friend and someone I much admire,” Ginsburg said in a written statement the day before the ceremony. “That is why I am officiating at his wedding.”
In candid comments that clearly showed a strong bias in favor of same-sex marriage, Ginsburg told the Washington Post that the ceremony would represent “one more statement that people who love each other and want to live together should be able to enjoy the blessings and the strife in the marriage relationship.”
She added that “it won’t be long before there will be another” homosexual marriage performed by a Supreme Court justice, and, in fact, Ginsburg herself is scheduled to preside at a second gay pairing event in September.
Kaiser himself called it “very meaningful” to have a personal friend perform his ceremony, “and then for someone of her stature, it's a very big honor. I think that everything that's going on that makes same-sex marriage possible and visible helps to encourage others and to make the issue seem less of an issue, to make it just more part of life.”
Ginsburg was one of the justices most identified with destroying the lines between traditional and homosexual marriage. During arguments over the DOMA case she argued that by allowing homosexuals the option of civil unions but not full marriage with all its benefits, the government had in effect created two versions of marriage, full and a “skim milk” version.
While Supreme Court justices have been known to officiate at traditional marriages (Justice Clarence Thomas officiated at one of Rush Limbaugh's marriages), homosexuals were previously reluctant to ask Ginsburg or other pro-homosexual High Court judges to perform a gay marriage. Before the DOMA case Ginsburg explained the reason to the New Yorker magazine. “I don't think anybody's asking us,” she ventured, “because of these cases. No one in the gay-rights movement wants to risk having any member of the court be criticized or asked to recuse. So I think that's the reason no one has asked me.”
However, when asked if she would be open to officiating at such a wedding, Ginsburg quipped, “Why not?”
Photo of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg marrying Michael Kaiser (left) and John Roberts: AP Images/The Kennedy Center, Margot Schulman