Defense of Marriage Act

Gay marriage rose to the political forefront in 1996 when several same sex couples from Hawaii sued for their right to legally marry. The anti-gay conservative response to this issue was the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which denies federal recognition of gay marriages and gives each state the right to refuse recognition of same-sex marriage licenses issued by other states. Since 1996, many states have enacted legislation prohibiting same sex marriages or the recognition of same-sex marriages formed in another jurisdiction.

The Defense of Marriage Act itself does two things: First, it says that no state shall be required to recognize the laws of another state in regard to same-sex marriage, which prevents the federal system from recognizing any status “between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage” Second, it defines the words “marriage” in Federal Law as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife,” and the word “spouse” as “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

This is the first time in U.S. history that the federal government adopted a definition of marriage of any kind. Until the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government always accepted state definitions of marriage for federal law. DoMA has the effect of treating all same-sex couples as legal strangers under federal laws, denying them such basic considerations as: ability to keep a jointly owned home if a partner goes on Medicaid, dies, or becomes sick; veteran’s discounts on medical care, education, and home loans; bereavement or sick leave to take care for a partner or a partner’s child; pension or social security continuation when a partner dies; joint tax returns and exemptions for primary relationships on estate taxes; immigration and residency for partners from other countries. As a whole, the Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage for any purpose, not just for the purpose of employee benefits. So married same-sex couples can’t file tax returns jointly, qualify for Social Security benefits on the basis of their spouse’s employment, or appeal to the spousal privilege that prevents you from being forced to testify against your spouse in federal court.

Some citizens, especially those same sex partners hold that the Defense of Marriage Act is bad constitutional law and bad public policy. It is unnecessary and offensive. It violates several core principles of American Constitution in addition to creating an unworkable patchwork of government rules and regulations for marriage. DoMA violates the 5th Amendment guarantee of equal protection. It creates a second-class status for legally married, same-sex couples by denying them all the rights and responsibilities other married couples enjoy, for no reason other than hostility and disapproval. For them, it is a deplorable act of hostility and does nothing to “defend” marriages. It only attacks lesbian and gay Americans.

Category : Marriage

5 Comments → “Defense of Marriage Act”

  1. Paige

    6 years ago

    Pres. Obama declared Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in Feb. 2011.

  2. Jordan

    6 years ago

    I heartily agree with Pres. Obama in his stance on the DOMA; not only was it unconstitutional, but one of the biggest cases of bigotry the christians tried to push onto the American people.

  3. Diana

    5 years ago

    I disagree with President Obama. Marriage should only be between a man and a woman. DOMA is constutional. The reason is that somebody cannot marry an AKA! That means also know as!

  4. Diana

    5 years ago

    I disagree with President Obama! DOMA should not be repealed. Marriage is between a man and a woman. The Yes on Prop 8 side won the popular vote in election results. However, President Obama and other ones such as Jerry Brown do not agree with the voters. Therefore in my opinion they should all be impeached.

  5. Diana

    5 years ago

    DOMA should not be repealed. Marriage is between a man and a woman. The voters in California passed Yes on Prop 8 with a majority of the votes. Senator Boehner is correct. Then how do we explain the Yes on Prop 8 man at the Golden Globes Awards in 2011. Considering that he supposedly died in 1995 yet he was at the Golden Globe Awards live in 2011. The answer is because he has an imaginary friend. Now will the politicians please sign the petition to award him a BAFTA! He really deserves this award.

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