End of Proposition 8 and DOMA
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States (Scotus) ruled, 5 to 4, that Section 3 of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) that defined marriage as only for heterosexuals, was unconstitutional. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating these persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statue is in violation of the Fifth Amendment. This ruling meant that now legally married same-sex couples could receive federal benefits and privileges that heterosexual couples now enjoy. It no longer treats them as a special class that is “lesser than.” On the same day, Proposition 8 was struck down in California, an amendment outlawing gay marriage. The Justices essentially adopted the rationale of the federal appeals court that California could not take away the right to marry that had been granted by the state supreme court in 2008, before Proposition 8 passed.
Shift in Public Opinion
While these court decisions are votes of confidence in same-sex marriage and reflect the latest Pew Forum findings on Religion and Public Life that shows that over 50% of Americans support gay marriage, up from 39% in 2008. The end of DOMA and Proposition 8 have a very narrow radius: gays and lesbians can only collect federal benefits in the states where it is legal to marry: 13 (now with California) and the District of Columbia. This leaves a Byzantine maze for same-sex couples who live elsewhere to negotiate.
Inherent Problems with States Settling Gay Marriage
As Justice Scalia points out, what happens when a gay couple in Albany where same-sex marriage is legal, wants to move to Alabama which doesn’t recognize gay marriage? Or if a couple works in one state, lives in another, and was married in a third state? Can they collect and file joint tax returns? What’s to prevent another Hollingsworth vs. Perry in other states?
Leave gay marriage to the states, now 37 of them without it, and the rights of Americans are not based on equality, but upon geographic location. Why should equal protection apply only in states that recognize gay marriage? Why doesn’t it apply equally to gays who want to marry in states that refuse to marry them?
Nationalize Gay Marriage
As gay and lesbian couples scramble to get married and legislators draft measures to put same-sex marriage to vote, why not simplify the playing field with the same rules for everyone? Nationalizing gay marriage and not leaving it up to the states has my vote!
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.