Wednesday, June 26

DOMA, Proposition 8

Today the US Supreme Court issued two rulings that cut at the heart of the battle for marriage. DOMA, and Proposition 8.

The first - DOMA - regarded the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Since the federal government administers a number of benefits to married couples, but has no "voting precinct" other than Congress, Congress passed the law during the Presidency of Clinton to ensure that the federal government would only support marriage between a man and a woman - ruling out all other definitions for the purposes of federal benefits. Since the federal government holds jurisdiction in military bases and other areas, as well as determining social security and tax issues, this was a key position. The Supreme Court ruled that DOMA, by exclusively supporting marriage between a man and a woman, "singled out" homosexual marriage, along with other any other form of marriage not listed already supported or that in the future may be supported by a given state.

This ruling essentially says that the federal government, as far as benefits and other uses, is ruled by the most lenient state or states as per definitions of marriage. If a given state decides to acknowledge a given marriage, the federal government will follow suit.

The second ruling was that the supporters of Proposition 8 - an amendment to the California constitution that declared marriage as between a man and a woman that passed via popular ballot - lacked standing before the court to support their case. Since the state of California, which would have had standing, refused to support the new constitution, supporters attempted to keep it alive. The declaration that they lacked standing before the court means that voters, regardless of any supposed interest they may have vested in their state constitution, do not have the legal right to contest court rulings regarding their constitution. 

That is sort of troubling to me, personally, because it essentially says that, unless the Constitution - state or federal - is causing me "personal harm," I have no legal right to object to any part of it. A strong moral belief, or even support for a constitutional amendment doesn't seem to hold sway.

Either way, this ruling leaves the prior ruling in place, which was made by a homosexual judge in the district court just below. That ruling said that the constitution of California was unconstitutional by admission of the new amendment.

The duality of the rulings makes me a bit frustrated. By saying that the federal government must follow the lead of the states (as per the ruling on DOMA), it sounds like the court is supporting state sovereignty in marriage. That's how marriage has always been defined - by the states. But by perpetuating the ruling made by a federal court on a state constitution - declaring it unconstitutional because of the admission of a marriage amendment - and by effectively closing the door to anyone to ever petition against it again, it sounds like the court is supporting federal sovereignty in marriage. By doing both, it looks like they are just making a political play... and it's obvious that they are for gay marriage.

I'm not going to start talking about the issues of the future that these rulings have opened. For today, I'm frustrated that my government has decided to endorse yet another thing that leads away from God.

1 comment:

Big O said...

Thanks for your insights on this difficult issue. Regardless, it is troubling to see God’s laws marginalized by society. I admire your strength and example. Hope things are going well for you.