It was waiting to happen. The topic is DOMA or Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman and further, requires no state to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state. A lower court has declared the law unconstitutional. This means that this case is likely heading for the Supreme Court for a final decision.
Note: When lower courts start reacting differently to the same law, then that case has a higher chance of being heard by the Supreme Court. Remember, they get to pick the cases they want to hear. With this court being so activist, they will definitely want this case.
This has been brewing for some time with the Justice Department’s Eric Holder just a few months ago saying, “After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’s determination.”
The issue here is discrimination and how much can a government discriminate. The court has consistently found that a court CAN discriminate if it meets certain criteria. They are in different levels or categories of discrimination. For example, some laws must be rationally related to furthering a legitimate government interest. In applying the rational basis test, courts begin with a strong presumption that the law or policy under review is valid.
When some constitutionally suspect classifications (race, religion, alienage, or national origin) are not at issue, nor are any fundamental constitutional rights at stake, a law must be upheld if there is any “reasonably conceivable state of facts that could provide a rational basis for the classification” (United States Railroad Retirement Bd. v. Fritz, 449 U.S. 166, 101 S. Ct. 453, 66 L. Ed. 2d 368 ).
The Justice Department has recently said that they have no rational basis for discriminating against gays and lesbians. That means that the government is actually saying that they have not Rational Basis for discrimination. That means that there is no defense for it under the 14th Amendment analysis.
Ripped form the headlines:
Via the Huffingtonpost – BOSTON — An appeals court ruled Thursday that a law that denies a host of federal benefits to gay married couples is unconstitutional.
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminates against gay couples.
The law was passed in 1996 at a time when it appeared Hawaii would legalize gay marriage. Since then, many states have instituted their own bans on gay marriage, while eight states have approved it, led by Massachusetts in 2004.
The appeals court agreed with a lower court judge who ruled in 2010 that the law is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define marriage and denies married gay couples federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns.
During arguments before the court last month, a lawyer for gay married couples said the law amounts to “across-the-board disrespect.” The couples argued that the power to define and regulate marriage had been left to the states for more than 200 years before Congress passed DOMA.
An attorney defending the law argued that Congress had a rational basis for passing it in 1996, when opponents worried that states would be forced to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere. The group said Congress wanted to preserve a traditional and uniform definition of marriage and has the power to define terms used to federal statutes to distribute federal benefits.
Since DOMA was passed in 1996, many states have instituted their own bans on gay marriage, while eight states have approved it, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Washington state and the District of Columbia. Maryland and Washington’s laws are not yet in effect and may be subject to referendums.
Last year, President Barack Obama announced the U.S. Department of Justice would no longer defend the constitutionality of the law. After that, House Speaker John Boehner convened the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to defend it.
Another Federal Court Slams DOMA San Francisco Bay Times Another Federal Court Slams DOMA. San Francisco Bay Times. One the challenge to Prop 8 waiting for full Ninth Circuit to decide whether or not to take appeal two the Massachusetts DOMA case fully argued and waiting for ruling from three-judge First Circuit panel three the Golinski DOMA case Ninth Court denies request to speed up appeals process for Defense of Marriage ActDaily Bruin. Gay marriage Judge overturns DOMA stepping up pressure on Supreme CourtMinnPost.com. Boston court US gay marriage law unconstitutionalBoston.com. all 4 news articles.…
POTUS weighs in on DOMA and JP Morgan Chase CNN blog UPI.com. POTUS weighs in on DOMA and JP Morgan Chase. CNN blog Washington CNN Less than a week after President Barack Obama made history by endorsing same-sex marriage the president would not commit to fighting to have the Defense of Marriage Act commonly known as DOMA be repealed. Obama DOMA is a bad ideaUPI.com. Obama Sets Goal of Repealing DOMAThe Atlantic Wire. The View Obama stops short on committing to fight to repeal DOMALGBTQ Nation. The New Civil Rights Movement Washington Post Politico. all 4,043 news articles.…
You may also remember an article on this site about DOMA and hypocritical people. It was a classic that this terrible woman spent her life working against something just to turn around after being paid to say the opposite since it meets her current situation. Jerk alert!
Another US District Court finds no rational basis for DOMA treatment of same Business Insider Another US District Court finds no rational basis for DOMA treatment of same Business Insider. by Linda Beale In a case that will add weight to the likelihood that the Supreme Court will finally take a case to decide the constitutionality of the so-called defense of marriage act DOMA the US district court for Northern California District Pelosi Spokesman Speaker Boehner Strikes Out Again Another Federal Court PressZoom press release all 2 news articles.…
So, what does this mean? Exactly what you think. DOMA is unconstitutional. That means that all of the state amendments to the constitution are about to fully challenged, and with good results likely to follow.