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.