The U.S. Supreme Court recently started hearing arguments for and against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8 — debates which have brought forth a strong response among anyone listening.
City on a Hill Press strongly supports overturning DOMA and Prop 8. However, lawmakers must continue to push for marriage equality, no matter the outcome.
Pres. Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law on Sept. 21 1996. Since then, he has decided to advocate for marriage equality by renouncing his support of DOMA and instead is urging the Supreme Court to overturn the law.
The law denies same-sex couples federal marriage benefits, including Social Security and hospital visitation rights. It also denies interstate same-sex marriage.
Clinton is one of many American politicians — including conservatives and Republicans — who have recently voiced support for legalizing same-sex marriage, reflecting a sea change in public opinion on marriage equality.
The day before the examination of DOMA, the Supreme Court held a debate about Prop 8. Passed in 2008, the California proposition effectively outlawed same-sex marraige by only recognizing the legality of heterosexual marriage. A large number of advocates and opponents were drawn to the grounds outside the Supreme Court on March 26 to protest Prop 8.
In 2008, Prop 8 passed due to the support of 52 percent of California’s population, but many have argued the proposition would not pass in an election today.
The ruling on Prop 8 could yield dramatically different consequences for gay marriage. The justices could make a sweeping decision that all 50 states and the federal government must recognize same-sex marriage, they could declare same-sex marriage unconstitutional or they may choose to not take a stance and leave the decision to a lower court in California.
Overturning DOMA, on the other hand, would not legally mandate that the 50 states and federal government recognize same-sex marriage. But it would entitle same-sex couples to benefits from over 1,000 federal programs in the nine states that currently recognize same-sex marriage.
The Supreme Court may decide it is unconstitutional to overturn both DOMA and Prop 8, leaving the battle for marriage equality in the rut it has been in since Prop 8 passed. This would create a longer waiting period for people who are denied the opportunity to legally marry those they love — a disappointing reality for those whose legal rights have been oppressed by DOMA and Prop 8. However, the battle would not end there.
No matter what the Supreme Court rules on DOMA and Prop 8 in June, lawmakers pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage can ride the wave of support created by the Supreme Court’s debates to continue pushing for marriage equality.
It’s time to acknowledge that our outlook on marriage is changing. Traditional marriage values will inevitably be replaced by an expanded, more humane definition of marriage.
Supreme Court justices must match their ruling with the morals of equality: allow same-sex couples to have the opportunity and benefits of marriage. If they do not, people’s convictions within the battle for equal rights should only grow stronger from there.