Friday, July 10, 2009

Massachusetts' lawsuit illustrates absurdity of DOMA

On July 8, Massachusetts filed a lawsuit (PDF file) against the federal government to challenge the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act. This will be an interesting case to follow, not just because it involves a state suing the federal government over same-sex marriage, but also because of the states' rights vs. federal government aspect of it. You know those folks who always say government should "stay out of lives"? And how they're usually the same people who do not want same-sex marriage (or abortion) to be legal? Yeah. How do they feel about the states' rights in all this? I suspect imposing their "values" on others trumps anything relating to government.

Anyway, the suit says that "DOMA is unconstitutional because it interferes with the commonwealth’s 'sovereign authority to define and regulate the marital status of its residents' and also alleges that DOMA exceeds Congress’s authority because Congress does not have a valid reason for requiring Massachusetts to treat married same-sex couples differently from all other married couples." Sounds reasonable enough to me. The Justice Department has said it will review the case; no idea how long that process will take. President Obama has repeatedly claimed he supports the repeal of DOMA. Will this be the chance to make that happen?

If you don't know the extent to which DOMA can control what a state does with federal money, take a look at this information from this Boston Globe story:
Massachusetts risks losing millions in dollars for MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program for the poor, and for veterans’ cemeteries overseen by the state Department of Veterans Services, unless it obeys the Defense of Marriage Act. The federal government has told the state that it cannot provide federal funding for MassHealth benefits given to same-sex spouses. It also informed the state it will lose Veterans Affairs funding if it buries the same-sex spouse of a veteran in a cemetery, as the state does for heterosexual spouses of veterans.
Massachusetts, we're rooting for you.

4 comments:

Razor said...

Well considering Obama's feet-dragging on the issue of gay rights, I'm not going to hold my breath on any actual progress. The only comfort I can find in any of this is that sometime in the next decade or so, we're all going to look back on this debate and say "man... we were really fucking dumb."

Gabriel McKee said...

If President Obama had any guts he'd come out in favor of gay marriage.

Razor said...

If the opposition wasn't a bunch a frothing, maniacal homophobes, we wouldn't even need to have a debate.

Gabriel McKee said...

Ahhhhh help it's attack of the crazy strawman arguement!!!

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