Way back in 1996, our then President, Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law. This act which you’ve likely heard referred to as DOMA, establishes that states have obligations to one another to recognize each other’s public acts, records and judicial proceedings. Section 3 of DOMA (conveniently) excludes same-sex marriage from “acts” that other states are required to recognize. For all intensive purposes, this gives each state the sole authority to define marriage, as a power not granted by the Constitution/federal government, but instead belonging to each state.
You all still with me?
So the homophobes (otherwise referred to as opponents of same-sex marriage), who argue that the definition of marriage is a power reserved to the state, do so in anticipation of the day that the federal government may substitute language that would ultimately recognize same-sex unions. Critics of DOMA (myself included) take issue with this act because it denies all of us: adult, consenting, human beings, the right to participate in marriage with the partner we choose, regardless of gender thus violating the Due Process and Equal Protection Clause as well as the good old Fourteenth Amendment (you know the one about life, liberty and the pursuit of fairness? Yeah, that one)! Opponents of DOMA challenge that the act unfairly discriminates against one class of citizens, homosexuals, who have long endured a history of discrimination.
Okay, so I’m getting to the good part…the section of DOMA (referenced above) has been declared “UNCONSTITUTIONAL” by President Obama!! It gets better – not only has it been declared unconstitutional, but the Department of Justice will not defend it in federal court! Can I get a WOOT, WOOT!
The Defense of Marriage Act has essentially restricted the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage in any way. By doing this, the act has inversely given states the right to not recognize same-sex marriage if they don’t feel like it... The thing I wish everyone would realize, is that it’s not just that we want to have weddings and save money on our car insurance – it’s that DOMA makes same-sex couples ineligible from accessing over 1138 federal and state benefits. Not only that, but it also sends the message to all Americans, that the life commitment and union of same-sex couples is UNEQUAL to the same unions of heterosexual couples.
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement today; “After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet the standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’s determination”.
Thank you Mr. President!