Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hooray! DOMA Is Dead!

The odious Defense of Marriage Act (better known as DOMA), a wingnut idea that was passed mainly because Bill Clinton was embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, was struck down today by a judge in the U.S. District Court:

Bay Windows, via Pam's House Blend:
In an enormous victory for same-sex marriage, a federal judge in Boston today (Thursday, July 8) ruled, in two separate cases, that a critical part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

In one challenge brought by the state of Massachusetts, Judge Joseph Tauro ruled that Congress violated the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when it passed DOMA and took from the states decisions concerning which couples can be considered married. In the other, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, he ruled DOMA violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

In Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Health and Human Services, Tauro considered whether the federal law’s definition of marriage -- one man and one woman -- violates state sovereignty by treating some couples with Massachusetts’ marriage licenses differently than others. In Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), a gay legal group, asked Tauro to consider whether DOMA violates the right of eight same-sex couples to equal protection of the law. Both cases were argued, separately, in May, and the decision released today is a relatively quick turnaround, given that some judges take almost a year to decide cases.
Oh, happy day! This is a big step towards marriage equality. I've never understood why marriage is perceived as a "straights-only" right. Who is hurt if gays or lesbians marry? How can some other couple's happiness affect mine? Aren't the members of the GLBT community citizens? Dammit, aren't they people?? Isn't this the 21st Century?

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, was more supportive of the logic of the two opinions, and said they worked together to establish a broad right of marriage for same-sex couples.
“The key issue in this case, and in all litigation about marriage equality for gays and lesbians, is, Does the government have a rational basis for treating same-sex couples differently from heterosexual couples?” he said. “Here, the court says there is no rational basis for treating same-sex couples differently from heterosexual couples. Therefore, DOMA is unconstitutional, and conditioning federal funding on compliance with DOMA is unconstitutional.” 
Damn right DOMA is unconstitutional! As Andrew Sullivan wrote today, quoting Ted Olson: "This issue is neither right nor left; it is about human dignity, civil equality and civil rights. And it is way past time the American polity grappled with this, instead of exploiting it for mutual partisan purposes." Yes, it is way past time for this to happen.

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