Thursday, February 24, 2011

DOMA in a coma

Despite the fact Barack Obama was an opponent of same-sex marriage while running for President, it was only a matter of time before he flipped his position.

Well, the other shoe has finally fallen.

In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration said Wednesday it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a U.S. law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act "contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships — precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (U.S. Constitution's)Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against."

The Justice Department had defended the act in court until now.

Look, I've given my reasons why I oppose gay marriage, so I'm not going to rehash that here.

But the rationale behind the decision to cease enforcement of DOMA is what has me confused. Since I'm the furthest thing from a constitutional scholar, I'm open to being enlightened on this issue.

The catalyst for this ruling was a recent case where a woman had to pay an estate tax on the inheritance left her by her female "partner". The argument being that she otherwise wouldn't have had to pay said tax had the two women been allowed to marry (Once again, this is where Civil Unions would eliminate such issues). The fact these two women weren't allowed to be married under the 15-year law "Defense of Marriage Act" was cited as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause noted in the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Serious question: How so?

What's to say that I can't cite the EPC because someone pays less income taxes than I? Or what about the rights of smokers? Their choice to engage in a legal activity (smoking) has been infringed upon in certain private properties (i.e. bars & restaurants). Couldn't smokers cite the Equal Protection Clause as well?

Again, not trying to be snarky here. I'm genuinely befuddled how the Equal Protection Clause can be cited as a reason to not enforce DOMA.



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