Defense of Marriage Act Ruled ‘Unconstitutional’ by the Supreme Court

Millions of people all over the country exhaled in a sigh of relief earlier this week as news of the United States Supreme Court striking down The Defense of Marriage Act was delivered. Those people cried, and embraced one another, and danced in the streets, in celebration of another small victory in a larger movement for equality of all United States citizens.

DOMA Struck Down - CNN

 

Photo from CNN

 

Before it was ruled unconstitutional, DOMA, which was enacted in 1996, allowed states to deny recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. This often equated to a barring of privileges, benefits, and basic rights for couples who were married in a state where same-sex marriage was legalized. Rights that are often taken for granted by heterosexual couples such as the ability to visit your spouse in the hospital, or being able to file joint tax returns, were not granted to same-sex couples, regardless of their legitimate union sanctioned by whichever state they were married in.

Gay rights activists, allies, same-sex couples, and pro marriage equality politicians have long urged the public to see the unconstitutionality in The Defense of Marriage Act. Because of the rights that DOMA denies same-sex couples, the federal law is in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment, in that it denies life, liberty, and property, as well as due process for same-sex couples.

The United States Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional by a 5-4 vote. Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the majority opinion, which appears to be just as influenced by the constitution as by contemporary ethics. Kennedy explained how DOMA not only denies due process to same-sex couples, but also “humiliates the children of same-sex spouses,” and makes same-sex married couples feel “less worthy” as citizens deserving of equal rights.

DOMA being overturned by the Supreme Court is a momentous marker of progress in the gay rights movement. Though there is still much work that needs to be done to achieve equal rights for all people in this country regardless of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, this ruling sparks hope for many advocates of universal equality for all.

For more quotations from Justice Kennedy’s delivery of the majority decision, take a look at this article.

Ken Mehlman Gains Support from GOP for Same-Sex Marriage

Ken Mehlman has gained support from the Republican Party in an effort to strike down Proposition 8, a ballot measure that outlaws same-sex marriage.

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Photo from Out.com

Mehlman was able to drum up support with 75 signatures from prominent Republicans. The brief will be presented to the Supreme Court this week. A feature about Ken Mehlman in The New Yorker today, is calling him one of the smartest political operatives since he understands better than anyone how moderate and persuadable Republicans think.

Many of the conservative officials and influential thinkers aren’t ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy, including some who are speaking out for the first time and others who’ve changed their previous stance. Among them are Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor, Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser, and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership who is retired from Congress.

Ms. Pryce said, ““Like a lot of the country, my views have evolved on this from the first day I set foot in Congress. I think it’s just the right thing, and I think it’s on solid legal footing, too.”

After Mehlman came out of the closet in August 2010, it represented a turning point. The gay and lesbian political community now had a conservative leader.

Mehlman is on the board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the California suit. He’s spent months reaching out to fellow Republicans for support.

In the 2012 Presidential election, the Republican party failed to reach out to women, minorities and gays. Polls show that public attitudes have shifted over same-sex marriage in the past decade. The latest New York Times survey found that a third of Republicans favor letting gay people marry and that is also changing.