Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

Posts tagged ‘DOMA’

I’m from Washington, so why should I care?

A few days ago, someone said to me: “Finally, I live in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. So, I’m just not that concerned about the issue any longer.” For a moment, I was stumped for the proper response. “So long as one couple is discriminated against, then all couples are discriminated against,” appeared to be the obvious rejoinder. Though true, it misses the mark. The speaker had always cared deeply about the issue, and deserved better than a facile response. A little more thought made me realize that the statement stemmed from a misunderstanding of our Federal government’s role in the marriage equality debate.

In 1996, Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  That act permits the Federal government to not recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in any state of our union. The Feds non-recognition of same-sex marriage results in same-sex married couples being denied over 1,100 Federal rights and benefits which flow to opposite-sex married couples.  Those rights and benefits include, for example, the right oppostite-sex couples have to:  transfer property between spouses tax-free; receive Social Security spousal benefits; and not suffer the sale of their home upon the death of one of the spouses.  In short, a same-sex couple legally married in, for example, Washington does not enjoy the same Federal rights and benefits as enjoyed by an opposite-sex couple married in Washington.  That’s the rub.

The legitimacy of DOMA – whether same-sex couples will continue to be discriminated against for Federal purposes – is now before the Supreme Court. Hopefully, the Court will end this discrimination, since there appears to be no legally sufficient reason to continue treating one lawful marriage differently from another lawful marriage. Congress may wish it to be so, but its prejudices do not rise to a legally sufficient reason for imposing those prejudices on the states.

Image Courtesy of: http://yilb.com/defense-of-marriage-act-deemed-unconstitutional-by-new-york-federal-court/

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Marriage Equality is a Conservative Issue

There’s a major disconnect between conservative values and conservative politics on the issue of marriage equality. I am at a loss to understand why political conservatives oppose same-sex marriage rather than vociferously and whole-heartedly support marriage equality.

Maybe I’m nuts, but doesn’t it strike you as odd that political conservatives who support the Defense of Marriage Act and its denial of basic civil and human rights to same-sex couples are the same individuals who believe government should keep its nose out of our private lives, which I assume includes our bedrooms.

Maybe I’m nuts, but doesn’t it strike you as odd that political conservatives who support DOMA and its countermanding of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution are the same individuals who believe the Constitution should be strictly construed, which I assume includes the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause.

Maybe I’m nuts, but doesn’t it strike you as odd that political conservatives who espouse, as a true conservative value, committed and stable relationships through government-sanctioned marriage are the same individuals who refuse to afford this same commitment and stability to families in which the parents are same-sex.

Marriage Equality is an issue that screams for intellectual honesty from political conservatives. So, why are political conservatives disingenuous on an issue at the very core of their family values? Politically, it makes no sense.  But, politics is probably not at the root of this inconsistency. It strikes me that being opposed to gay and lesbian civil rights has more to do with misplaced religious beliefs than with political beliefs.  It’s time for conservatives not only to stop their opposition to, but lead the fight for marriage equality.  Since marriage equality is four square with conservative values and philosophy, it’s a  conservative issue whose time has come.

Image courtesy of: http://michael-in-norfolk.blogspot.com/2012_03_25_archive.html

Defend Marriage From DOMA

“Slavery, sir, it’s done,” were the words President Lincoln, in the recently released movie Lincoln, says to the envoy from the Confederate States. So can it be said for the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, as it is called.   Marriage inequality, my follow Americans, it’s done.

The Supreme Court is to decide this term whether DOMA is Constitutional or not.  Hopefully, the Supremes will see what is readily apparent to civil rights advocates.  DOMA, Congress’ shameful and degrading slap on the gay and lesbian community, is unconstitutional and should be rended null and unenforceable. Here’s what it’s about.

DOMA was federally enacted in 1996 and signed into law by Bill Clinton, one of our more liberal Presidents. It has only three invidious sections. Section 1 defines marriage for Federal purposes as exclusively between a man and a woman.  Coupled with Section 3 which permits the Federal government to disregard same-sex marriages for Federal purposes, same-sex couples are denied over 1,100 federal rights that benefit heterosexual couples, including:

  • joint parenting rights;
  • joint adoption rights;
  • status as next-of-kin for hospital visits and medical decisions;
  • wrongful death benefits for a surviving spouse;
  • tax-free transfer of property between spouses;
  • spousal rights to Social Security benefits;
  • exemption from “due on sale” clauses in home mortgages when one spouse dies; and
  • rights to funeral and bereavement leave,

just to name a few.   One of the less obvious, but more odious effects of the law is as follows: If a married couple is, for example, comprised of two men, one of the men will never be permitted to be the father of their child, because the child will already have a father.

The second provision of DOMA authorizes each state to ignore same-sex marriages performed legally in another jurisdiction. Here’s were the Congressional slap becomes apparent. Article IV, Section 1 of our Federal Constitution – a provision which helped create a federal union from our many States – requires that each State recognize and respect the laws and acts of every other State. That’s why, Virginia, for example, is required to recognize a Connecticut driver’s license or a heterosexual marriage legally performed in Connecticut.  Because of DOMA, however, Virginia is not required to recognize a same-sex marriage legally performed in Connecticut, and, as of today, it does not.

If marriage needs defending, then all marriages need defending. When one marriage is under attack, then all marriages are under attack. What the feds took from the gay and lesbian community, they can take from the heterosexual community.  Indeed, today marriage needs defending. It needs defending from Congress, and the Supreme Court is poised to do just that.

 

President Bill Clinton signing DOMA into law. Image curtesy of: http://kirkcameron.com/2012/10/defense-of-marriage-act-is-declared-unconstitutional/

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