A New York Federal Appeals Court has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This is a huge victory for gay men and women who wish to marry or who have already been married, as marriage between members of the same sex became legal in New York last year. This is just another step forward for gay people everywhere -- and, in my mind, for straight people too. In fact, it is for anyone who cares about marriage.
Language in DOMA said that marriage only means a legal union between "one man and one woman" and that a "spouse" can only refer to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife. It's this language that the court found unconstitutional. Uhh, yeah, because it tramples on the rights of men and women who just happen to want to marry a member of the same sex.
The law was first passed by Congress in 1993 and signed by then-President Bill Clinton. It denied same sex marriage on the federal level, but allowed states to make their own laws about it. Since then, six states, including New York as well as the District of Columbia, have made it legal. However, since DOMA is at the federal level, gay groups have wanted to strike it down so that couples who marry in states where it is legal won't have trouble having their status recognized in other states or when federal laws come in play. (For instance: A gay spouse legally married in one state might have trouble inheriting a federal pension or social security.)
Gay marriage is still a contentious subject -- while most polls say half of the country believes in it, the other half still doesn't. I personally believe that if a gay American has the right to pay taxes, the right to pursue happiness, and the right to fight for our country, he or she has the right to be legally wed and retain the rights that married heterosexuals have. Plus, it's just the humanistic thing to do. How can you deny love between two consenting adults? This is where those who bleat about gay marriage being the equivalent of, say, a person marrying a squirrel is just screwy. Two consenting adults will always be worlds away from anything like that and it's INSULTING as all hell to compare the two!!!
I'm also a firm believer that gay marriage sends a strong signal to the gay populace that says: You're accepted. You're human. You're normal. And the more they get that message, the less they will be inclined to deny their sexuality and enter into doomed marriages with straight people. Which happens ... all ... the ... time.
So hopefully we're now one step closer to making gay marriage legal on the federal level.
Where do you stand on gay marriage?
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