D.O.M.A.: Defending Outdated Marriage Assumptions

So DOMA doesn’t ACTUALLY stand for Defending Outdated Marriage Assumptions–it stands for the Defense of Marriage Act.  But the only kind of marriage that DOMA tries to defend is the classic One Man One Woman version.  Quite frankly, liberals and the LGBT community have no patience for DOMA…and we’re not alone!  Back in spring of 2011, the Department of Justice refused to continue to defend DOMA on the basis that it is unconstitutional.

On March 16, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the new Respect for Marriage Act.  The Respect for Marriage Act would redefine the term spouse (it is currently defined as a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife).  A really short summary of what the bill will accomplish is this: it requires the federal government to recognize ALL marriages  performed by the states, including same-sex marriages.  This is a really important step, because it declares that same-sex marriage IS legitimate: it isn’t just a fad going on in the states, it is a legally acceptable union, and it needs to be recognized he same way heterosexual marriages are.  The bill currently has 27 co-sponsors, and I want to take a moment to acknowledge the politicians who are standing up for equality in this instance: Sen. Dan Akaka (D-HI), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-MN), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) (really? Ohio?), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Benjamen Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen, Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Thomas Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-WI), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).  A serious thank you for your support of this bill.

You may have noticed that there were exactly 0 Republican senators included in that list of cosponsors.  There’s a shock.  Republican leaders are fighting hard to keep DOMA and prevent its replacement by the Respect for Marriage Act.  It’s a real shame, because it is obvious that they are only prolonging the inevitable: younger generations are significantly more accepting of both gay marriage and the LBGTQ community as a whole.  Not to mention, the Obama Administration and DoJ are refusing to defend DOMA.  Because it isn’t constitutional.  Because marriage is actually a power of the states and not of the federal government.

Back in July, Chuck Grassley did an outstanding job of using a whole bunch of lies to try to defend DOMA, which of course only makes DOMA seem even more indefensible.  FIRST, Grassley claimed that even President Obama originally supported DOMA.  False: Obama has been openly opposed to DOMA since 1996.  He also claimed that marriage was used around the world for the sole purpose of creating unions for procreation.  So, okay, there are a couple of ways one could respond to that one.  The New Civil Rights Movement points out that in China, legally married couples are actually barred from procreating by the One Child Policy.  But on top of that, marriage is practiced differently in different parts of the world: some cultures accept polygamy, others endorse child marriage, etc.  The point is that marriage is not a standardized social institution: it varies culturally, and culture is always changing and adapting.  And in fact, since marriage has legal implications as well as cultural ones (the New Civil Rights Movement references about 1100 rights related to marriage that legally-married same sex couples cannot access under DOMA), it is even more important that we adjust our understanding of marriage and that the federal government recognize legally-wed same-sex couples.

Impressive, no?

Not sure what I mean?  I’ll give you an example.  Under DOMA, same-sex couples cannot file their taxes as a married couple, but must do so as if they were single.  They can still file their STATE taxes as a married couple, just not their federal taxes.  This is one of those “are you KIDDING me?  How does that make SENSE?” moments that seem to come along over the course of the discussion about gay marriage.

I am sure that I don’t need to go on about the fact that, by keeping same-sex marriage illegal, we continue to stigmatize homosexuality as deviant and unacceptable, and to say that gay Americans do not deserve the same sexual citizenship as their heterosexual counterparts.  In this day and age, to continue to mark some of our citizens as lesser than others simply by how they identify seems ridiculous.  And yet here we are.  We can only hope that our leaders will continue to advocate for ALL of their constituents, not just the ones who think that boy-on-girl is the only way to go.





~ by Randi Saunders on August 7, 2011.

7 Responses to “D.O.M.A.: Defending Outdated Marriage Assumptions”

  1. So many of my friends, even gay ones, are shocked to learn that even if I marry my fiancee in Washington DC, where it is legal, I cannot sponsor her for a visa to get her into the country because our marriage would not be recognized federally. Instead, we’ll have to keep buying $1,700 plane tickets just to see each other until DOMA falls…

  2. I have nothing to say except that I’m sorry. DOMA should obviously be repealed and I hope that you and your fiancee are able to be together soon!

  3. Thank you, I hope so too. The whole situation just bites, and I’m anxiously watching the news on DOMA, willing it to move faster. I wrote a blog about the whole thing if you’re interested, it’s at http://wojo4hitz.wordpress.com.

  4. Wow! That is an attention-grabbing slant.

  5. Cultural views on marriage vary. But there is an absolute right and wrong which does not change over time. True marriage is blessed by God and is between one man and one woman: it cannot be “outdated” as moral truth does not have a sell-by stamped on it. As US and Western/Judeo-Christian culture already had the correct understanding of marriage as man and woman there is no need for change.

    If it ain’t broke… don’t corrupt it,

    • Right so you can’t preach cultural relativism in the first sentence and then just switch to moral absolutism. It’s your opinion that “true marriage” is between one man and one woman; maybe I don’t believe in G-d or maybe my religion says that “true marriage” can be between anyone. Judeo-Christian culture isn’t an absolute truth, it’s one interpretation of reality.

  6. […] you’re not all that familiar with DOMA, you can read my previous post about it here.  DOMA is problematic because it prevents legally married same-sex couples from accessing benefits […]

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