Thursday, February 23, 2012

Will DOMA Die Already?

Yesterday a Federal Judge in the 9th Circuit found the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, stating, heaven forbid, that a Federal employee should be allowed to share their benefits with their partner, straight or gay. The ruling places DOMA in the “heightened scrutiny” category, which for those of you who might not know means it: "must advance an important governmental interest, the intrusion must significantly further that interest, and the intrusion must be necessary to further that interest". This means that the defense of the law now must meet a much higher constitutional standard, that the government, now being represented by the House of Representatives (for without Social Conservatives what fun would the Republican Party be), must show that denying same-sex couples benefits furthers some important government goal. I would just love to hear what that would be exactly. My first question is always going to be “whose benefits?” That is the be all and end all for me. You have a job, they make some sort of distinction that allows you to share the benefit with whom you cohabitate, then you should be allowed to share it with whomever you want. The benefit is yours, it is something that is offered to you in lieu of other compensation to work there. What does it matter to anyone who you share it with? What has it ever mattered? You allow a married individual to share their benefits, but a same-sex couple can not, and that is somehow reasonable?

You have to say that this judge got it right, despite what National Review thinks. It makes sense that you should be allowed to dictate where your benefits go. By saying that gays may not do that you must come up with a compelling interest beyond what seems to be nothing more than “we don’t much like homos”. How does it affect the Federal government or any individual outside of this pair bond of people? It all comes back to this idea of “traditional marriage” and some need for the state to define and protect that institution, but it is untenable. As I have tried to establish before, you have a “traditional” system that develops because to stand up and say you are a homosexual in theocratic Dark Ages Europe/Middle East was a death sentence. This continues on into this country where there are state legal sanctions against being a homosexual. It is now no longer illegal to be a homosexual, so you must come up with a larger argument than “tradition” to justify denying someone in this regard. You are uncomfortable with homosexuality, it runs counter to your religious practices, your moral sensibilities? That should dictate government policy for the rest of us? Thankfully not. DOMA was a ridiculous, unconstitutional overreach, and while I may not agree with much the Obama administration does, attempting to let this die was a good move. It is unfortunate John Boehner did not follow suit and concentrate on things that actually matter, instead of making sure there was enough red meat around to gin up the Social Conservatives this election year.

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