Third Party & Independents Archives

Is It Time for Equality For All?

Massachusetts’ attorney general, Martha Coakley, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the U.S. government that seeks federal marriage benefits for about 16,000 gay and lesbian couples who have legally wed in Massachusetts.  The state is challenging the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.  Finally!

I think most liberty minded individuals see the obvious constitutional violations going on with the DOMA, unfortunately I am not convinced that this Supreme Court, with or without Sotomayer, will allow themselves to see it as well.  But what else can you call a federal law that denies access to over 1,000 programs (saving that large of a number for a later article) just because the person that they choose to dedicate their lives to is a member of the same sex.

Federal Income Tax Credits, employment and retirement benefits, health insurance coverage, Social Security payments, etc.  We deny these, and many other, benefits to the spouses of homosexual Americans for no other reason than we don’t like who they choose to love.

The funny thing is that we heard the same arguments that are being made now against homosexual marriage as we heard when individuals of different races wanted to marry.  They were as wrong then as they are now, yet a significant number of people seem to not learn from our own history.  So, we have to relive the same fights we have already gone through because of these individuals being bullheaded.

I am hoping that we have sense and reason prevail on this case and the clear violation that the law has on the 14th Amendment (and the basic rights of man) will be rejected by our legal system as it should be.  It is time we start to live the American ideal of equality instead of just giving it lip service.

Posted by Rhinehold at July 8, 2009 3:37 PM
Comments
Comment #284221

Rhinehold, I assume you are referencing Section 1 of the 14th amendment. How does the ban on gay marriage violate the rights of individuals under the 14th amendment.

Posted by: D. Black at July 8, 2009 3:47 PM
Comment #284222

Challenging constitutionality should be a challenging affair, and progress in such efforts measured at each step of the way. I am with you on this one Rhinehold. It’s a righteous challenge and the defense of marriage act is destined to go down as unconstitutional, eventually.

Of course, when it does, its proponents will cry Judicial Activism, and politicization of the courts. Bullpucky. Interpretation of our Constitution in cases of challenge as to its applicability and interpretation in the context of contemporary history is the province of the courts. Always has been, and hopefully, for our nation’s future, always will be.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 8, 2009 3:47 PM
Comment #284223

D. Black. Simple answer? It permits government discrimination against individuals based on the exercise of their individual right to choose their sexual orientation preference. To discriminate against individuals based on the exercise of their protected and inherent individual right to self-determination regarding gender orientation, fails to provide equal protection under the law.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 8, 2009 3:52 PM
Comment #284235

Agree at last… agree at last… great god almighty, we agree at last!

Posted by: Jon Rice at July 8, 2009 7:22 PM
Comment #284236

Nice article rhinehold. I may sound like a broken record on this issue but to answer D. Black, the 14th Amendment is relevant especially if you look at the Loving v. Virginia (1967) ruling where the SCOTUS said, “Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man” if it is a basic civil right then it is most certainly falls under the 14th Amendment protections. That should be enough to overturn any bigoted marriage laws leaving only a constitutional amendment for those who think they know what’s best for other people. DOMA is a ridiculous law that needs to go now. It smacks of things like the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and all the overcomplicated slavery laws having to deal with a half-free, half-slave country.

Posted by: tcsned at July 8, 2009 7:29 PM
Comment #284239

It’s my impression that you really don’t even have to get into the Amendments to see where this goes wrong. This is a full faith and credit matter. It’s like marriage in Las Vegas and divorce in Reno.

The whole point with DOMA was to block that full faith and Credit, because if Gays could get married in Mass. then that marriage would have to be honored in Utah.

And like the Church Lady might say, “Now isn’t that Conveeenient!”

I don’t think you really have to get into matters of civil rights until you get into the State’s individual laws on the matter.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 8, 2009 8:55 PM
Comment #284242

David and Reinhold

I take a pragmatic approach that I can sum up in one long sentence.

Gay couples should get equal treatment, which means they will get the benefits of marriage and pay thousands in the marriage penalty tax, but it is not really as important a practical issue as people think, because few gays want to get married, as the low numbers (most in the first two years, many out-of-state and about 2/3 female) in Massachusetts experience have demonstrated, perhaps because many gay couples have figured out that the expenses & obligations of marriage do not really fit into their preferred lifestyles.

Another long sentence sums up how marriage has worked. Marriage has primarily functioned as an economic and social partnership where men and women brought complementary skills and applied them to building a household primarily devoted to building a family and protecting children and their mothers during the early years of the children. Where this has not been the driving imperative, marriage has weakened.

Marriage is good for people. (http://www.heritage.org/Research/Features/Marriage/index.cfm) Married people on average are healthier and wealthier. Children in intact homes do better in school and get involved less with crime and drugs. But it is hard to tell whether this is a cause or effect. Marriage remains strong in the wealthier and better educated half of the population and is weaker in the lower half. Are they better off BECAUSE they are married or do more stable people get and stay married more? It is probably a combination of both with an interacting cause and effect.

Will marriage stabilize gay lives? Do gays feel their lives need to be stabilized?

Gay people should have the marriage option, but so far it looks like not many will really take up the challenge. Frankly, if not for the kids, I don’t know if I would stay married if we had the domestic partner option. It would have saved us thousands of dollars in federal taxes NOT to be married last year.

I am happy to let gay people start help pulling this wagon instead of getting pulled along behind. Let them experience the joys and responsibilities of marriage.

Posted by: Christine at July 8, 2009 10:09 PM
Comment #284243
Gay couples should get equal treatment

That is all that matters. If there is an issue with marriage (fewer people of any persuasion getting married) then we should address that, but we are not in the business (IMO) of encouraging or discouraging such a decision. The main goal is to make sure that everyone is treated equally.

Posted by: rhinehold at July 8, 2009 11:07 PM
Comment #284251

Christine,

“I am happy to let gay people start help pulling this wagon instead of getting pulled along behind. Let them experience the joys and responsibilities of marriage.”

My hope is that this merely a poor choice of words.
I have both worked and socialized with gays since the late ’60s.
They work as hard as everyone else and pay their taxes like the rest of us. They just want to be treated with a modicum of respect, and to enjoy the same rights the rest of us enjoy.
The impression that gays are out partying or cruising for sex every night is just erroneous, and wrongheaded.
Of the gays I see on a regular basis, two of the couples have been together in a monogamous relationship for 15 and 33 years.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at July 9, 2009 2:16 AM
Comment #284252

I don’t think that the number of gay men and women who are actively seeking marriage or the lifestyle that anyone leads should even be a factor. If one American is permitted, by law, to do something, all Americans must be permitted to do the same. It is not for anyone to judge another’s lifestyle and one’s lifestyle should never dictate one’s civil rights.

Those seeking to continue to suppress marriage rights for all use some really weak arguments (and no really good arguments). The weakest of all is that someone else’s marriage will tarnish their own. I have yet to hear a single argument against equal marriage rights that either makes sense or has anything other than fear and bigotry behind it.

Posted by: tcsned at July 9, 2009 7:47 AM
Comment #284267

Mark Sanford is just another Republican in a long line of Republicans who want to destroy their marriages before homosexuals have a chance to.

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at July 9, 2009 11:46 AM
Comment #284274

For real Mike. Not to mention all the closeted homosexuals in the GOP who vote to continue the oppression of other gay people.

Posted by: tcsned at July 9, 2009 1:07 PM
Comment #284278

Rocky

My bad. I was referring specifically to the marriage penalty. My family pays literally thousands of dollars a year in additional Federal taxes just because we choose to be married. As I understand it, gay men are on average high income individuals, so as you say they are hard working and taxpaying. I am happy if they also pay the marriage penalty AND get all the attendant benefits of being married.

Obligations and rights should come as a package. In fact, in states where marriage is indeed an option, civil unions or other benefits extended to non-married partners should be eliminated.

Rhinehold

Yes - equal treatment all in all ways.

Posted by: Christine at July 9, 2009 7:26 PM
Comment #284281

Stephen,

Based on the article and some quick research, full faith and credit is just one constitutional issue for DOMA. You also have the Federal component which states that the Federal government will not recognize the marriage either.

What is more interesting is that article seems to be taken an approach toward the constitionality based on the 10th ammendment rather than the 14th. It will be interesting to see where that goes. There have been a few expansions to the court’s interpretation of the 10th recently which is nice to see. It would be nice for that ammendment to regain complete footing on hold with the other ammendments instead of being treated as dead-letter law.

Posted by: Rob at July 9, 2009 7:35 PM
Comment #284285

Gays should absolutely have the same right to marry as anybody else.

But as with many things, the attempt to create good laws with a bad process is deeply concerning.

This case boggles the mind. Massachusetts is making a states’ rights claim here, but they’re not just saying that they have the right to define the rules within their own state borders. They claim that “The federal government is interfering with the state’s “sovereign authority to define and regulate marriage” by denying federal money to gay couples.

Got that? Does it make sense to you? When a state makes a law, the federal government must not respect that law but PAY whatever money is associated with it, according to this lawsuit.

Do we really want to go down that road? Liberals (or me for that matter) might be glad to see fairness for gays, but do we want there to be a precedent that says that the federal govermnent must pay federal money to bankroll the unique laws of various states?

Liberals might like to see such a measure applied in Massachussets for the benefit of gays. But I wonder if they’ll like the precedent when say Mississippi or Utah make the same demand for totally different reasons. Things need to be done the right way, and this is not it. Organizing society with lawsuits and judicial fiat is not a good idea.

Posted by: Paul at July 9, 2009 10:46 PM
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