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Same-Sex Marriage in the US: From Defense to Respect

The US is poised to formally enshrine marriage equality in law, as opposed to allowing the practice via Supreme Court fiat.  Same sex marriage, first legalized in Massachusetts in 2003, was validated in all fifty states by the Obergefell v Hodges decision in 2015.  But recent events with the overturning of Roe v Wade and its abandonment of federally guaranteed reproductive freedoms have shown just how fragile governance by judicial rulings can be, and advocates have been pushing hard for legal codification of the right to same-sex unions.

The House approved the Respect for Marriage Act on July 7th, and the legislation passed a hurdle in the Senate on November 16th with a bipartisan vote that advanced it to the floor, with no fear of filibuster.  The Act passed the full Senate on November 29th, 61-36; it now returns to the House for a second vote endorsing Senate amendments, and is expected to be signed into law by President Biden before the end of the year. 

The so-called RFMA doesn’t guarantee same-sex unions nationwide per se, but it would require individual states to recognize another state’s legal marriage, and ensures federal-level recognition and protections.  In the Dobbs ruling which overturned Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas signaled that other freedoms based on the right to privacy could be under review in future, prompting the rush to embed same-sex and interracial marriage in statute before any test cases challenging their validity could be brought before the Supreme Court.  In the event that Obergefell would be overturned, a state could still pass a law to ban same-sex marriage, but RFMA requires that state to recognize such marriages performed in another state.

RFMA would also put a stake in the heart of the infamous Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from 1996, which defines marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman, and allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states.  All of the act’s provisions were ruled unconstitutional or legally devoid by Supreme Court decisions in the cases of United States v. Windsor (2013) and Obergefell, which invalidated the law and any enforcement it had.  But technically it remains on the books, and could be reactivated should SCOTUS reverse itself on the decisions which rendered it moot; RFMA would formally repeal it and prevent that outcome.

With the USA’s natal Venus/Hera conjunction conjoined by Antinous, sextiled by Sappho, squared by Eros and trined by Ganymed, the concept of same-sex unions found fertile ground

It has been a quarter-century struggle for marriage equality between DOMA and RFMA, with the federal government wavering from Defense to Respect for the institution as regards same-sex unions, and the skies have tracked this evolution with their usual stunning precision.

But before we examine the history of marriage equality in the US, let’s take a look at what the US natal chart has to say about the matter.  The four major asteroids which resonate to homosexual issues are Sappho, named for an ancient Greek lesbian poet; Antinous, named for the lover of first-century Roman Emperor Hadrian, who sacrificed himself to save his beloved; Ganymed, named for Zeus’ cupbearer and boy-toy lover; and Eros, who was the acknowledged patron of same-sex relationships in Hellenistic Greece.  Asteroid markers for matrimony include Hera, named for the Greek goddess of marriage; and Juno, named for her Roman counterpart.

Venus is the traditional planetary ruler of marriage, and with natal Hera at 2 Cancer in the US Independence Day chart conjunct Venus at 3 Cancer and Jupiter at 5 Cancer, Americans are naturally predisposed to take a fairly expansive, inclusive (Jupiter) view of marriage (Venus, Hera), at least so far as the current culture will allow.  Same-sex unions were, of course, not so much as thought of at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, no more than interracial unions were accepted.  But as times change, culture morphs and equality progresses, Americans are reasonably quick to get on board and adopt new norms. 

Something like interracial marriage, which was so scandalous before the ‘50s and ‘60s, has become passe, and barely causes a ripple beyond certain cultural backwater regions.  Similarly, it took quite awhile for the country to warm to the concept of marriage equality, but once the ball got rolling, it became pervasive in the culture, with everyone from Cabinet Secretaries to Jeopardy! champions openly acknowledging their same-sex spouses.  At the passage of DOMA in 1996, just 27% of Americans supported gay marriage, according to a Gallup poll; a poll done by the same organization in May of 2022 shows 71% acceptance as RFMA becomes the law of the land.

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President Bill Clinton signs DOMA into law in 1996, with the Sun conjunct Mercury (signing), asteroid Ganymed (gay issues) and Whitehouse (presidency), squared asteroid Hera (marriage)

Antinous factors into this matrimonial mix as well; at 26 Gemini, it conjoins Hera/Venus, as well as Mars at 21 Gemini, bringing in the element of same-sex marriage.  Antinous here suggests an eventual acceptance of marriage (Hera) as a natural outcome of same-sex (Antinous) romance (Venus) and sexuality (Mars), just as it is in heterosexual relationships.  In fact, all four indicators of homosexuality interact with the US’ Venus/Hera:  Sappho at 3 Virgo is sextile; Eros at 9 Libra is square; Ganymed at 1 Scorpio is trine, suggesting the comfort level with the concept which recent polls confirm.

The main indicator of resistance to this development is Juno, which at 20 Libra bridges the gap between Saturn at 14 Libra and asteroid America at 27 Libra.  This suggests a certain reluctance or hesitancy (Saturn) in the nation (America) to alter marital (Juno) tradition (Saturn), and a conservative (also Saturn) bent on the topic.  In square to the US Sun at 13 Cancer, this can be a self-defining trait, made all the more powerful by America’s exact trine to the US Moon at 27 Aquarius, which sets motherhood on a pedestal.  As well, with a Cancer Sun, Americans see themselves as domestic-and-family-oriented regardless, and the iconic image of the nuclear family with father, mother and a child of each gender has a powerful pull on the American psyche.  And of course, in and of themselves, without benefit of the intervention of science, same-sex unions are by their very nature nonproductive of offspring, placing them outside the traditional ideal. 

With the advent of Civil Rights legislation in the ‘60s and increased voter participation by blacks and other minorities, Republicans (whose constituency was traditionally business and the wealthy) saw the writing on the wall for their chances of electoral dominance, and the Culture Wars were born.  Harnessing the latent power of the politically somnolent fundamentalist Christian community began in earnest after the 1973 Roe v Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide, and by the time of the Reagan administration in 1981 this constituency was firmly in the GOP camp, and flexing its newfound political muscle in such movements as Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority”.

Of course, homosexuality in general was also a particular bugaboo of the church, going hand in hand with the oppression and domestication (literally) of women, and once the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in the 1994 election, after forty years in the political wilderness, they set their sights on the emerging gay rights movement as well.  Same-sex unions were becoming an issue globally (with the Netherlands being the first to legalize the practice in 2000), and the GOP took pains to ensure that this abomination would not become the law of the land.

But there was a problem.  Marriage was traditionally under the purview of the individual states, and was not subject to any national jurisdiction.  Seeing the cultural trends developing, knowing that someday soon one progressive state or other was going to legalize same-sex marriage, the Republican Congress took steps to limit the future spread of the cancer.

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Asteroid Sappho, named for an ancient Greek lesbian poet, opposed asteroid Senator when the Senate passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996; in 2022, Sappho and Senator were exactly conjunct when the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, showing the total reversal of stance by the upper chamber in a quarter century

And thus was born the Defense of Marriage Act, designed to stem the tide by preventing federal recognition of same-sex unions, allowing states where such marriages were not sanctioned to discriminate against unions performed in more progressive states, and disqualifying any federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples, such as tax and inheritance, even in states which approved the practice.

Signed into law by Bill Clinton on 21 September 1996, just weeks before his reelection, DOMA purported to defend a hallowed American institution.  The skies for the signing witnessed a stunning exact triple conjunction of the Sun, asteroid Karma and Ganymed, all at 28 Virgo, with asteroid Whitehouse, representing the President, in tow from 22 Virgo, as well as Mercury, symbolizing the actual signing, at 21 Virgo.  This shows a fated (Karma) focus (Sun) on gay issues (Sappho), while asteroid Washingtonia at 26 Gemini in square to this stellium imaged the pressure brought to bear on the administration (Whitehouse) by the federal government generally (Washingtonia).

The law had received final passage in the Senate nearly two weeks prior, on 10 September, and the importance of this is seen in a Grand Trine Kite pattern, with an exact Senator/Antinous conjunction at 23 Taurus, trine to the Virgo placements and also to Neptune at 25 Capricorn, with asteroid Sappho on the String of the Kite at 23 Scorpio, exactly opposing Senator/Antinous.  This combines three gay indicators (Ganymed, Sappho, Antinous) with the Senate (Senator) and the President (Whitehouse), bound up with religious fundamentalism, extremism and zealotry (all Neptune).

As well, both Senator and Antinous were near station, greatly augmenting their impact on the timeframe in question.  Antinous had turned retrograde a week before the Senate vote, at 24 Taurus, while Senator was actually at its station degree for the signing, about to turn retrograde two days later.

And so the matter rested for a quarter century, albeit that two SCOTUS decisions in the meantime invalidated DOMA, without actually repealing it.  It’s ironic, therefore, that a third SCOTUS ruling should have increased the urgency to regularize same-sex unions with a legal basis.  Less than a month after the Dobbs decision voided Roe, the House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act (first proposed in 2009) on July 7, 2022, guaranteeing federal recognition of same-sex unions wherever state law supported them, and providing portability of these rights to any state which might subsequently refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

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Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the US’ only openly gay Senator, holds forth after the passage of RFMA; the Sun conjunct asteroids Eros and Antinous, in a Grand Trine Kite pattern with asteroids Juno and Karma, Pluto on the String, depicts a fated moment granting broader freedoms for homosexual individuals now empowered to marry whom they love

As with DOMA, the House passage of RFMA shows gay-themed asteroids bound up with the Sun, bringing a focus to same-sex issues.  At 26 Cancer, the Sun conjoins Eros at 19 Cancer and an exact Mercury/Antinous pairing at 0 Leo.  A T-Square is formed from a tight opposition to Pluto at 27 Capricorn, suggesting enhanced personal power for homosexuals, with asteroid Washingtonia on the fulcrum at 22 Libra and asteroid House at 3 Scorpio, eliciting governmental and specifically House support.  Ganymed at 11 Virgo is exactly semisquare the Sun, lending its backing.

A grouping of Juno with asteroid Whitehouse and Neptune at 21, 22 and 25 Pisces shows Neptune again trine to the Sun, as with DOMA, but the presence here also of asteroid Nemesis at 29 Pisces, depicting a roadblock or antithetical energy, puts paid to the fundamentalist religious zealotry of Neptune that prompted the earlier legislation, enabling it to enact its more compassionate, empathetic, universalist energies.

Asteroids Senator and Sappho are once again linked, but whereas these energies were opposed at DOMA, they are now conjunct, with Sappho at 10 Cancer and Senator at 13, suggesting the movement in the Congress from antagonism to consent.  Sappho reaches back to Venus at 1 Cancer to specifically include the issue of marriage, while Senator moves ahead toward Eros to reaffirm the gay issue.  Sappho/Senator lies at the fulcrum of a T-Square with Hera at 12 Libra opposed Jupiter and asteroid NOT at 8 and 17 Aries, reflecting the DOMA injunction against marriage equality (Hera/NOT, a general disqualifier), now eroded by the shifting political (Jupiter) tide.  Startlingly, transit Saturn at 23 Aquarius is precisely T-Squared the DOMA Senator/Sappho polarity from 23 Taurus and Scorpio, bringing the balance of the legal system to bear in favor of same-sex unions.

Senate passage of the bill occurred November 29, with Senator and Sappho even more tightly locked in their extended conjunction (Sappho and Senator have been in resonance, within ten degrees of each other, since March 2022, and will continue so through November 2023, with both bodies coming to their retrograde stations at the same degree on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2022 respectively).  The Sun at 7 Sagittarius conjoins asteroid Hera at 3 Sag, focusing on marriage as the issue of the day, and squares the exact Senator/Sappho union at 0 Virgo, highlighting the Senate venue for this phase of the legislation’s progress into law, also T-Squared Juno at 13 Pisces and asteroid Whitehouse at 10 Pisces, harking ahead to the final hurdle to be crossed in this Act’s quest for marriage equality (Juno), its signing into law by the President (Whitehouse). 

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A Yod, or Finger of Fate, pattern in the chart for the Senate passage of RFMA shows asteroids America, Ganymed and Antinous on the Apex, inconjunct to asteroid Juno and Uranus, a sign that for the US (America), unconventional (Uranus) same-sex (Ganymed, Antinous) marriages (Juno) are a concept whose time has come

The country’s increasing comfort level with gay issues generally is reflected in a triple conjunction of asteroid America at 10 Libra with Ganymed at 14 Libra and Antinous at 16 Libra, all of which conjoins the US natal Saturn at 14 Libra and squares its natal Sun at 13 Cancer.  This underscores the reality that LGBTQ+ individuals (Ganymed, Antinous) have been a part of the nation’s (America) core identity (Sun) since its inception, with their rights now enshrined in law (Saturn).  As well, the transit Libra stellium sits at the Apex of a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with inconjunct aspects to transit Juno at 13 Pisces and Uranus at 16 Taurus, a symbol that unconventional (Uranus) unions (Juno) between same-sex couples (Antinous, Ganymed) in the US (America) is a cultural shift whose time has come (Yod).

Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

2 comments, add yours.


Very interesting, Alex! You inspired me to look up these asteroids in the Canadian chart and also in the chart for when our federal law allowing same sex marriage was given royal assent on July 20, 2005. Glad these rights will soon be enshrined in legislation for Americans. I am sure learning a lot about American politics from you, thanks Alex!

Emma Esperanza Acosta Vásquez

Gracias por este artículo. Uds. me podrían decir si hay alguna programa gratis para hacer las cartas con los asteroides. Gracias

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