The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been deemed unconstitutional by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. DOMA defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The Appeals Court has decided it is unconstitutional because it discriminates against same sex couples.
The United States was founded on the idea that all men are created equal. At the time the U.S. was founded, women and slaves had no rights. Since that time, the nation has evolved to a place where all people are considered equal under the law. Laws cannot be passed that limit the rights of citizens. This decision verifies that DOMA violates the rights of members of the LGBT community.
Laws being passed on a federal level hinder the rights of states to determine issues such as marriage definitions and rights. A federal law that overrides the rights of the states hinders the ability of the state to represent the will of the citizens of that state. DOMA was intended to prevent one state from passing a law to recognize same-sex marriage and forcing another state to recognize that marriage.
DOMA was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. DOMA was passed by both the Senate and the House by a large majority. The legislation was created following a fear that Hawaii was going to pass legislation legalizing same-sex unions and forcing other states to recognize marriages granted by other states. Eight states followed suit and approved DOMA, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, Iowa, New Hampshire, Washington and the District of Columbia. Other states have passed state laws banning same sex marriage.
During arguments before the appeals court last month, arguments were raised that decisions to regulate and define marriage had been in the hands of the states for over 200 years prior to passage of DOMA. The court agreed and relinquished control over same-sex marriage into the hands of the states. Federal law regulating same-sex marriage limits federal benefits to same sex couples. These benefits include survivor benefits and filing joint tax returns.
President Obama announced last year that Section 3 was unconstitutional and the Department of Justice would no longer defend DOMA as constitutional. After Obama’s announcement that the DOJ would no longer defend DOMA, House Speakercreated an advisory group with bipartisan members to defend the legislation.
DOMA was declared unconstitutional by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro in two cases on July 8, 2010. DOMA was also found to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California on June 13, 2011, and in an historic break with tradition, the decision was signed by 20 of the District’s 24 judges. More recently, in a February decision in Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management case, DOMA was also ruled unconstitutional.
Opponents of DOMA raise concerns about discrimination against same-sex partners. “Same-sex partners are denied more than 1,138 rights and protections which are granted to married couples by the U.S. government. These include hospital visitation, Social Security benefits, estate taxes, family leave and health insurance coverage. In case of death, a partner may even lose custody of a child due to the lack of rights granted to same-sex couples.” http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-new
Six states support same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and also the District of Columbia issue licenses for same-sex marriage. http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-new
Proponents of DOMA reference concerns about individual states passing legislation supporting gay marriage and forcing other states to recognize the marriage in spite of individual state mandates against them.
Currently two bills are pending in Congress to repeal DOMA, however it is not clear if there is enough support to pass the bills. DOMA prevents states from being able to control laws within its' boundaries.
If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.