Thursday, June 23, 2011

Forbes Magazine says Gay Marriage for Straight Legislatures

This article from is probably one of the best defenses for marriage equality that I have seen in such short and succint form. If anyone had a question on whether or not the 1996 law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

The author, Lisa Duggan, describes her first marriage from start to finish.
When I got hitched for the first time, in Staten Island’s tiny city hall, I was a naïve twenty-two year old, wearing a dress off Nordstrom’s rack. New York State didn’t ask, so we never had to tell anyone why we wanted to marry, only that we did.  Two signatures and two vials of blood was all that was necessary to be granted the state’s legal blessing.
New York State was there as well, three years later, when we decided to get unmarried—and this time they were asking questions. Cruel and inhuman treatment? Abandonment for a period of one or more years? Adultery? Who did what to whom, and when: it was all material to our legal grounds for divorce.
She then goes on to describe how married couples can completely lose any and all protections once they cross state lines, and how this law was written and passed specifically to discriminate against the LGBT population. It makes me sick to look back and see how complacent our legislators (and most of their constituents) were (and are) when it comes to writing discrimination into our laws, and potentially into our Constitution.
It means that our government will not pay Social Security benefits to the same-sex spouse of any enlisted person, grunt or officer, even if their partner of fifteen years dies while defending this country.
Is it me, or does all this scream civil rights violations? Isn’t it the height of hypocrisy for State and federal legislators to collect taxes from their gay constituents with one hand, while denying their rights with the other?
Especially when you consider that this legal landscape is neither an oversight, nor a murky interpretation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, which manages potential conflicts between various states’ rules.  In fact, the US Congress had to go out of its way to create this “marriage apartheid.”
She then goes on to attack DOMA and the potential Federal Marriage Amendment directly.
The 1996 law that unfairly singles out some American citizens based solely on sexual orientation is called The Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  The law was inspired when several gay couples from Hawaii sued for the right to legally marry. (DOMA was signed into law by that hero of marital fidelity, Bill Clinton.)
DOMA doesn’t prohibit individual states from allowing gay marriages, but it denies federal recognition of these marriages and grants each state the right to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages issued by other states.  Keeping gay families unequal and separate.  As legal scholar Andrew Koppelman observes in his book, The Gay Rights Question in Contemporary American Law, DOMA:
“Create(s) a set of second-class marriages, valid under state law but void for all federal purposes. The exclusion of a class of valid state marriages from all federal recognition is ‘unprecedented in our jurisprudence.”
And the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment will forever seal this separate status by defining marriage to be between one man and one woman. We’ve been here before, although some refuse to see the parallels: it wasn’t until 1967 that the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional every miscegenation law in the country.

Land of the Free? Home of the Brave? Please read the article. The rest is really good. Let me know what you think.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the compliments on my piece Brant. Despite what I wrote, and what is undeniably true - that DOMA is our real enemy - I was pleased & emotionally moved by NY's vote.

    -Lisa Duggan