, July 16, 2010 5:24 am
I first heard about it during the 6:00 news last Thursday. The TV was playing in the background while I was reading so my initial reaction was, “ What did she say?” I had to back it up and play it again before putting the newspaper down. Thank God for TiVo!
The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) got its first boot in the backside last week in a federal district court in Boston. There were two suits against DOMA in the courts here in Massachusetts: one filed by the Gayand Lesbian Advocates and Defenders; the other brought by the MA Attorney General Martha Coakley. DOMA was passed by the 1996 Congress and signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. It defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It codified in stone the denial of more than 1,100 federal benefits to lesbian and gay couples. Big ticket items like Social Security spousal/survivor benefits, health benefits for federal employees and the ability to file federal taxes as a married couple. Gay marriage is currently legal in five states and the District of Columbia.
In making his ruling, Judge Joseph Tauro (a Nixon appointee) wrote: “…DOMA marks the first time the federal government has ever attempted to legislatively mandate a uniform federal definition of marriage…Congress undertook this classification for the one purpose that lies entirely outside of legislative bounds, to disadvantage a group of which it disapproves. And such a classification, the Constitution clearly will not permit.” So, at least for now, the states continue to have the exclusive province to regulate marriage. Massachusetts has shown, yet again, that we believe in the Constitution and the foundation on which it stands. The Pilgrims…Plymouth Rock. Politics sure makes things very interesting, however. When it comes to marriage, conservatives want the Feds to run the show; immigration, they argue, should be left up to the states. They think we need to slash government spending, unless there’s a disaster like a hurricane or the BP oil spill. It’s conservatism when it’s convenient.
There’s the Proposition 8 lawsuit out in California which may produce a ruling soon. I wonder if Judge Tauro had that in the back of his mind while he was writing his decision. Are judges competitive? Hmmmmm. Anyway, we’ll see how the Constitution is viewed out West. Whether they agree or not, I’m sure this issue is headed for the U.S. SupremeCourt. Many of us will be on the edge of our seats until it’s resolved. Until next time, here’s to good planning!