Crowd gathers in Capitol Hill diner to celebrate Supreme Court rulings

(Image: CHS)

At its peak, SCOTUSBlog’s coverage of this morning’s Supreme Court decisions regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 had almost 200,000 viewers — about 10 of them were sitting inside Lost Lake Café, frantically refreshing and jumping from site to site.

Members of the Greater Seattle Business Association gathered early today at the Capitol Hill 24-hour diner to await the Court’s decisions, which were released at 7 AM Pacific Time.

As the minutes counted down to the release, the feeling in the diner was optimistic but tense.

“It’s hard to guess with these guys,” said GSBA board member Jay Petterson. “After 2000 with Bush v. Gore, it’s hard to get optimistic with anything they do.”

The Court first released their decision in the case of United States v. Windsor, which regarded the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The SCOTUSBlog livefeed flashed with a banner: “WE HAVE DOMA,” meaning that the reporters had obtained a copy of the Court’s decision.

“’We have DOMA?’ who’s we?” someone in Lost Lake asked as the message appeared.

“We the People?”

Finally it came: “DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.” A vote of 5-4.

The group broke into applause.

“I’ll take 5-4,” someone said.

The Court’s other major decision of the morning was received positively, if less enthusiastically. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Court sent the case defending California Proposition 8 back to the Ninth Circuit of Appeals, instructing them to dismiss it on procedural grounds. Same-sex marriage would likely be in California’s future, but it was the national importance of DOMA’s defeat that the group celebrated most. Check out the Stranger’s coverage for more on the Prop 8 decision.

“It’s been exciting to jump in on it and be a part of this,” said Matt Landers of the GSBA.

Landers said that GSBA was one of the first chambers of commerce approached to help out in the case against DOMA. GSBA helped organize and submit an amicus briefto the Court that included testimony from 287 private business owners who oppose DOMA — 55 of whom were from Seattle.

“Seattle businesses really proclaimed the need for equality,” he said. “Equality is good for business.”

Under DOMA, same-sex marriages were not recognized for federal purposes, even if state law recognized them. Now, same-sex spouses will be allowed to file joint tax returns and hold joint property.

“It’s incredibly boring stuff,” said Lobby Bar co-owner Curtis Bigelow. “But the repercussions are important, even if they’re completely mundane.”

Bigelow and Lobby Bar’s other owner Paul Villa said they will be buying a round of champagne tonight for everyone who shows up to celebrate the DOMA ruling.


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About Sam Heft-Luthy

I've lived on Capitol Hill since age 0.5. Now I'm channeling that Hill experience into my work as 2013 CHS Summer Intern, where I'll be reporting on community happenings, art, music, and just about everything going on around the neighborhood.
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