The Supreme Court DOMA Ruling
In the recent spate of rulings from the Supremes were two that dealt with same-sex marriage; the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA), and California’s Proposition 8. I’ll look at Prop 8 tomorrow.
The portion of the DOMA law that was ruled against is a provision that denies benefits to legally-married gay couples. Gay couples, under federal law, will now be considered “married.” The DOMA vote was 5-4, with Justice Kennedy writing for himself and the liberals on the court. He wrote that DOMA is a violation of, “basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the federal government.” Very interestingly, he also pointed out that DOMA infringed on states’ rights to define marriage.
Having just written about the Voting Rights Act yesterday, let me just say that that last observation is almost humorous coming from the liberal justices. The same people who said that 50-year-old data is sacrosanct in one ruling, said, in another ruling released the same day, that the definition of marriage, which has been defined for millennia, is just a states’ rights issue. The duplicity and blind partisanship is simply breathtaking.
In one respect, I agree with the DOMA ruling, regarding the idea that the federal government doesn’t need to be in the business of defining marriage. Now, I don’t thinks states should do that either, but it sets a precedent, that marriage is decided at the ballot box. It isn’t. And besides, regarding federal involvement, it’s the states that give out marriage licenses, not DC. So from that angle, it does make sense. Sort of.
The problem is, some states have decided to insert government into marriage like it has never been before. Glenn Reynolds, one of the most popular bloggers out there, the Instapundit, has been voicing his support for the repeal of DOMA by saying that government should get completely out of marriage. But as I have said before, when the government defines marriage, it is completely in the issue. Politics and PR will now define marriage. It didn’t need formal definition before, because it was almost universally agreed that it was one man and one woman. Cultures and religions, outside of government, defined marriage. All the state did was sanction what had already been decided. Back in episode 38, I discussed this in detail, so there’s a link in the show notes if you want to catch up on that. But basically, now that states decide what marriage is, the logical end of this is that marriage will mean what anyone wants it to mean, which means it will be meaningless. Since states were redefining an already well-defined term, it fell to the federal government to bring a little order and common sense to this chaos. I didn’t like it, but didn’t see any other good way out of it.
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