Supreme Court Rulings Boost Same-sex Marriage
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was declared unconstitutional yesterday by the U.S. Supreme Court, with perhaps the biggest immediate impact of the ruling being that same-sex couples who’ve tied the knot will now be eligible for federal benefits if they reside in a state that recognizes their marriage.
In a related case, the Court also ruled that it had no power to decide the legality of California’s Proposition 8, which outlaws same-sex marriage in the Golden State. “Prop 8” was initially approved by California voters before being overturned by a lower court – by refusing to issue a decision on Prop 8, the SCOTUS essentially permits the lower court ruling to stand, which allows California to recognize gay marriage.
DOMA created an awkward reality for many same-sex couples: a marriage recognized and validated by their state but not by the federal government. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the opinion for the majority of justices who sided against DOMA, says the law they struck down “Places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage….and humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.” Unstable. Second-tier. Humiliates. Strong words.
The “Defense” part of DOMA always struck me as odd. Why does traditional one boy/one girl type of marriage need to be defended, which is another way of saying it needs to be protected? From whom or what does it require defense/protection, exactly? I’ve never understood how legitimizing gay relationships somehow undermines those of straights. Are straight guys like me suddenly going to 1) become bi-curious; 2) ditch my Y-chromosome-lacking sweetie; or 3) sour totally on the notion of marriage? Will simply growing up in a culture that is increasingly tolerant towards same-sex couples and supportive of their relationships somehow make Susie prefer to attend the prom with Sally instead of Bobby? (And is that really a bad thing if she did?) I doubt if gay marriage will incline Susie or Bobby to prefer their own gender, but it might make it easier for them to live happier, healthier lives if they do. Again, where is the evidence that would be bad and somehow harm heterosexuals or their relationships, including a stroll down the aisle?
Traditional marriage might have a number of obstacles and social pressures to deal with, but defending it from same-sex couples and their nuptials isn’t among them. Do no harm, friends, to those who aren’t harming you and have no desire to do so. As Lennon/McCartney wrote and Ray Charles interpreted, Let it Be.
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