Don’t Rest on Your Laurels- DOMA AND PROP 8

With the landmark decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8 as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States, many are hailing an historic decision paramount to decisions like Brown v. The Board of Education in terms of Civil Rights and equality in our country. They are indeed correct in their assertion that this is a landmark decision in the history of the United States, and another step closer to the spirit of “all men created equal” embedding in our national character but the decisions have yet to be fully realized themselves and require some thought. The first thing that is missing from the ruling is a federal redefinition of what marriage is—and whether this is a defacto statement that such definitions are a state’s right issue or just a restrained ruling on the part of SCOTUS it requires some rumination.  In fact, some inspection of the decision—even at the surface level—demand deep and thorough movements for change in order for the ruling to have any worth whatsoever.

While Proposition 8 has now declared that states cannot giveth then taketh away the rights of citizens (indeed, aren’t our rights endowed upon us by our creator?) and the DOMA ruling states that love is love and marriage is marriage no matter where you are, it still raises a big question about the actual union of a same sex couple. Since 2000 14 states (some of which have since granted same-sex couples the right to marry) there is an alternative to same-sex marriage in the form of Civil Unions. Civil Unions are almost the same as marriages in that they convey some of the rights and privileges of marriages to same-sex couples but not all of them. For example, partners in Civil Unions do not provide housing benefits that Military Spouses and families are. Nor are they allowed the pension or Social Security benefits. Even with the striking down of DOMA’s restrictions there, they are only in relation to same-sex marriages and not Civil Unions.

Therefore, what remains, despite the celebrations of these landmark decisions during Pride Week, is a culture in most of the country of denying fundamental rights, or the existence of a second class system for homosexuals in regards to their ability to provide insurance for their loved ones after their demise. Civil Unions should be the next antiquated notion to go as the fight begins to get all 50 States to allow the full execution of all marriage rights to all Americans. Until every state in the Union passes same-sex marriage legislation the inequity will still exist, and homosexuals will continue to be second class citizens. Suppression of rights anywhere in the country is a violation of the spirit of the whole country.

Advocates would do well not to rest on their laurels too long as the extension of such legislation is not a foregone conclusion and will take quite a bit of time, sweat, and tears yet. All that the recent rulings provide for is an even playing field…they don’t actually create the playing field. The hills still need to be bulldozed, the new soil still needs to be raked and plowed, the grass planted, the lines painted, and the bases placed. The DOMA and Prop 8 ruling are more than a faint glimmer at the end of the tunnel, but they are not the ultimate destination in the journey towards (this particular issue’s) final degree of equality in our country.

As soon as the celebrations pass, the big push towards national recognition of homosexual rights should begin—and advocates should strike while the iron is hot.



Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. To this day, 20 countries and nine U.S. states have created civil union laws which are legally state recognized. Unlike marriages, however, civil union laws are not transferable from state to state, or country to country, and the rights given to same-sex partnerships are only valid in the jurisdiction which has officially recognized them.

  2. In addition, domestic partnerships in California , Oregon , Washington , Nevada , and the District of Columbia are effectively civil unions in that they convey all (or nearly all) of the legal rights, benefits, obligations, honors, and privileges of marriage. Domestic partnerships from these jurisdictions are fully honored in states with civil unions and vice versa.

  3. “Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.

  4. Those statements could be be true IF marriage had not been transformed into a legal institution. The second the government required a marriage LICENCE to get married and made it a legal status used by both state and federal entities, the debate became legal and not moral. DOMA was cut down because it infringed on the rights of a citizen within a PROTECTED CLASS of people within the state of New York. DOMA only passed in the first place because “gays” are not a federally protected class of people, they are only protected in a few states. On that note, those for the “preservation of marriage” should count their lucky stars that the SCOTUS did NOT rule on the principle of Prop 8 because, once again, gays are a protected class of people in the state of California and denying them a LEGAL RIGHT that is afforded to other citizens may well have been seen as FEDERALLY unconstitutional, not just a violation of the state constitution (which is what struck it down in lower courts in the first place). The court made a decision based on interpretation of law, as they were elected to do. There wasn’t much room for moral decision when there was so much law in the way, I suppose.

  5. Respectfully, Salvatore, marriage in our country is not tied to any religious affiliation, as religions are not specifically endorsed. The opposition of most to homosexuals and the legal extension of their rights is an arbitrary bias based on religious and not civil or legal objections–it is equally as arbitrary as laws denying interracial marriages 50 and 60 years ago. Using this kind of bias in our country is a dangerous and slippery slope and there really is no telling which group will arbitrarily be denied rights. To be clear, nobody is advocated for adults of consenting age to marry unwillfully, to minors, or to animals, plants, or inanimate objects so the counter-argument of slippery slope is invalid and absurd–same-sex marriage entails two consenting adults to pursue their happiness in a manner that impacts absolutely no other individuals in any way markedly different than a traditional hetero marriage.

    As for the defense of marriage as an institution, I believe the ease and callousness towards divorce has done more to invalidate that act, so perhaps you should rally against the right of consenting parties to willfully nullify legal contracts (as in a civil and legal society marriages are essentially contracts and agreements–even in the judeochristian tradition, I know because my religious marriage contract is hanging in my dining room signed by my wife, my self, two witnesses, and our Rabbi). Additionally, I think that the argument that same-sex marriage somehow infringes on the safety of children is unfounded and ridiculous. Again, there are many cases of physical, mental and sexual abuses hetero parents impart on children and–most likely–the majority of these cases can be traced to such circumstances.

    While you most certainly are entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to allow your opinions and biases to infringe on the liberties that our nation outlines as inherent to human beings by their nature–a nature that has always included both heterosexual and homosexuals. I wish you well, but do pose this question to you: when they start restricting rights for an arbitrary reason against groups unlike you, what happens when they start restricting rights on groups including you? For it wasn’t that long ago in the scope of history that men women and children were shoveled into gas chambers and ovens, expelled from their homes, shackled and sold, and had their cultural wealth, lands, and identities stolen for reasons equally arbitrary.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.