DOMA Was Never a Protector of Compromise

Back in the pre-Goodridge days, when those on either side of the same-sex marriage issue would have extensive debates on the merits of arguments, many on the pro-SSM side (notably Andrew Sullivan) argued that the Defense of Marriage Act would prevent a state judiciary from forcing nationalization of same-sex marriage. The traditionalist side pointed out that the arguments that were being made for SSM would be targeted directly at that legislation, and they’ve now been proven correct:

Now Ritchie, Bush and more than a dozen others are suing the federal government, claiming the act discriminates against gay couples and is unconstitutional because it denies them access to federal benefits that other married couples receive, such as pensions and health insurance. Plaintiffs also include Dean Hara, the widower of former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay member of the House of Representatives.

Yes, the “new lawsuit challenges only the portion of the law that prevents the federal government from affording Social Security and other benefits to same-sex couples,” but “President Barack Obama has pledged to work to repeal DOMA.” In any case, homosexuals from any state would be able to be married in the eyes of the federal government by acquiring the license in a state that offers it.
As I’ve been saying, the meaning of marriage is the key issue, here. That’s why Rhody misses the mark when he comments, elsewhere, that “we can all agree we want to encourage the establishment of the family unit, which is definitely a conservative goal.” The point is that a marital household, husband, wife, and (implicitly) their children should be a structure receiving especial encouragement. If there are no gradations to families — if they’re all uniformly founded in the revocable choices between adults — then procreative pairs have no additional cultural motivation to see the possibility of having children as a change in the status of their relationship.
There’s an ad for Blue Cross/Blue Shield in today’s Providence Journal of a man and woman looking at sonograms. “You’re a couple, but, you’re about to be so much more,” reads the caption. That “so much more” should be tied into the culture of marriage, and the main targets of its message should be couples that can become “so much more” even when they don’t particularly want to.

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12 years ago

Uh, a family is a structure. And the majority of voters under 30 realize that, if you’ve seen any polls lately.
I guess the anti-gay marriage types will have to invent something new. The DOMA and constitutional amendment cards have already been played.
Ever notice Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country? Gay marriage certainly ruined the family unit there, eh?

12 years ago

“Ever notice Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country? Gay marriage certainly ruined the family unit there, eh?”
It also has the lowest marriage rate…
Considering all the variables how did you pin low divorce on gay “marriage”?

Justin Katz
12 years ago

Deliberate obtuseness doesn’t constitute an argument, Rhody.
1. I’m clearly invoking the particular structure promoted by traditional marriage and suggesting that lumping it with others will be to the detriment of those who most need encouragement toward marriage: Children and the parents who create them.
2. It’s difficult to know what to say to somebody who thinks the effects of a radical change to marriage in one state of the nation ought to have a traceable effect within a few years.
As I said: Once there was a time when this debate actually involved a give and take of ideas, rather than convenient talking points.

12 years ago

Justin, promise me you won’t be sitting out on your porch waving a gun like Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino” 20 years from now when gay marriage is legal (or still on vigil waiting for Massachusetts to tumble into the Atlantic).
Funny, I’m supposed to be the bitter old man here. I actually have faith in the generation following mine that it will do the right thing (which even younger members of the right agree is right).

12 years ago

Well, here’s an idea… let’s table all discussion of all trivial issues until the freakin’ state is FIXED! Any legislator wasting a minute of our time on the subject of gay marriage while the state is in complete shambles, ought to be summarily booted!
Until the state is financially sound, taxes reduced, schools performing and we’ve grown by 20-30 thousand jobs, … lets have the “give and take of ideas” be about fixing the real mess we’re in.

12 years ago

Don’t worry, George…I’m betting this issue remains at a standoff. No percentage in either side pressing it.
At this moment, I’d speculate that the pro-gay marriage side has a majority, though not enough to override Carcieri’s certain veto, so they’ll keep their powder dry awhile longer. The Blais bill has no chance (there’s probably a good percentage of legislators who don’t support gay marriage wishing the issue would just go away, and discussion of a constitutional ban won’t make that happen). Given the budget crisis, I don’t see either side pressing too hard for a vote…as has been the case for awhile now.

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