There are a lot of great people, surprises, and days at this job. This was one of them. The last day of the Court’s ’12-’13 term, the Prop8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry) and DOMA (U.S. v. Windsor) cases were guaranteed to be announced. I got there by 8:15 that morning-primarily to avoid any challenges getting in to the Court, secondarily to see what the crowd was like. A small crowd gathered, not nearly like the crowd outside the Court during oral arguments in March. The heat – dear god, the heat! – showed up early and aggressive that morning. I leaned on a small wall outside the Capitol, across the street from the Court, to somehow stop/accommodate the sweating (impossible in this town), take it all in, and chatted with the woman also seeking shade asylum next to me. A biker out for a ride who was on her way to a same-sex union in Oak Park, IL the next day – where only civil unions and domestic partnerships are allowed in Illinois and roughly six other states – she decided to ride by to learn the decision (via the crowd, and running interns) because she had a dog in the fight, so to speak. Though she wasn’t explicit, anyone could tell she was thinking of her friends that morning. Why else would she be out in Satan’s-kitchen-oven temperatures to find out the decision?
She may not have gotten the marital decision she or her friends wanted, but she certainly got a show worthy of a sweaty bide ride out front. It was a day full of electricity (emotionally, physically and mechanically thanks to the scores of TV network cameras outside and some helpful running interns). Snapping the shot on the right – an unplanned action shot given that security was not allowing anyone to stop on the walk out of the Court – nearly didn’t happen. We’re not CNN, but delivering the message to the People after two major Supreme Court cases come down necessitates haste and getting it right the first time. Haste made. [See the “What happens immediately after a decision comes down.”]