Thursday, May 6, 2010

Same sex spouses versus Defense of Marriage Act

The clash between repugnant and protected transactions will have its day in court, starting today: Gay Couples Challenge Defense Of Marriage Act

"Six years after Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to legalize gay marriage, a group of married same-sex couples will be in federal court in Boston on Thursday, arguing that their marriages should also be recognized by the federal government. "...

"Bush, Ritchie and 17 other plaintiffs argue that the federal government can't just ignore some marriage certificates and recognize others. Their lawyer, Gary Buseck with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, says DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution because it is discriminatory.
When Congress passed the law in 1996, Buseck says, members "simply had a knee-jerk reaction that we have to bar the doors of the federal government in every conceivable way from the invasion of married gay people. I mean, they let it all hang loose."
Indeed, in heated congressional debate over DOMA in 1996, supporters argued the stakes couldn't be higher. One of DOMA's authors, former Republican Rep. Bob Barr, proclaimed, "The flames of hedonism and the flames of self-centered morality are licking at the very foundations of our society."
Barr, now a libertarian, has since called for DOMA's repeal, saying it violates states rights. President Obama also supports repeal. But his administration is in the awkward position of having to defend the law in court. As a Department of Justice official put it, we "can't pick and choose which federal laws [to] defend based on any one administration's policy preferences."
So, while government lawyers go out of their way in their legal papers to call DOMA “discriminatory,” they’re also arguing Congress did have good reason to want to preserve the status quo."

Here's my earlier post: When a protected transaction meets a repugnant one: The MA suit over the Defense of Marriage Act

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