Friday, March 29, 2013

DOMA Before the Supreme Court of the US

The Basics
On Wednesday, March 27, 2013, the Supreme Court of the U.S. heard the case against the federal government’s 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Besides stating that marriage is between one man and one woman, section 3 of the federal DOMA restricts federal marriage benefits and required interstate marriage recognition to only opposite-sex marriages in the United States.

Section 3 does not recognize same-sex marriage for all federal purposes, like insurance benefits for federal government employees (including military service personnel),  Social Security survivors’ benefits, immigration (including bi-national same-sex couples), and filing joint tax returns. Eight lower district courses, along with the Obama Administration, have found Section 3 unconstitutional based upon the equal protection clause.  In other words, same-sex couples are not considered “equal to” opposite-sex couples.
DOMA vs. Prop 8
It is very rare that the Supreme Court would hold back-to-back hearings on a similar issue regarding marriage equality. However, Prop 8 was more about the rights of voters to take away the rights of a minority group in California, while DOMA hearing was about inequality found within a federal law.
Highlights From the Hearing
Some of the highlights from the hearing exposed how those of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) were considered in 1996. The highlights also show what was troubling for some justices in terms of equality of same-sex couples with straight couples, and in terms of our families’ overall well-being.
For example:
  • Reading from the legislative history of the U.S. House of Representatives, Justice Kagan read the following regarding DOMA: “Congress decided to reflect an honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.”
Read more here:

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