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Category Archives: gay rights

Gay Marriage Law Passed in NY. The Debate Continues.

Friday night, New York became the 6th state to legalize gay marriage.  There was lots of cheering and applause in the gallery of the NY legislature as the bill won passage by 4 votes.  This was the second attempt to pass same sex marriage legislation in the last 3 years, as a similar bill was defeated in 2009.  The difference?  Something I think will lead to more states passing same sex marriage in the future (and noted in a huffington post article:

As older New Yorkers passed away and younger ones with more tolerant attitudes took their place, the percentage of voters in favor of gay marriage kept on going up and up, from 37 percent in 2004 to 58 percent at the beginning of this month.

Granted, a large percentage of voters nationwide still oppose same sex marriage, the issue is one handled at the state level. I’m pretty convinced that as younger voters take up more space in the voting block, we will see the percentages of people in favor go up.

There are two noteworthy things about New York becoming state number six.  First, New York becomes the largest state to become a same sex marriage state.  Further, unlike the other 5, one doesn’t have to be a resident of NY to get married in NY.  So, not only should we expect to see a number of gays go to New York to get married, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a number of them actually move to the state and take up residence.

Of course, conservatives are already sounding the alarm.  Michelle Bachmann, who is currently one of the front-runners for the GOP presidential nomination (it is early, folks, so that doesn’t mean much), has said that though she feels it should be left up to the states, she would offer up a federal amendment that would ensure marriage would be constitutionally guaranteed as being between one man and one woman:

“Every time it’s going on the ballot, the people have decided to keep the traditional definition,” she said. “After all, the family is the fundamental unit of government.”

I respect that many oppose same sex marriage on religious grounds.  But I have yet to understand how such a stance is not hypocritical from the traditional conservative stance of fighting for individuality.

It seems as though its all about individual rights, up until it’s something conservatives don’t agree with.  Suddently, its all about “what’s best for the country.”  Many a time, especially in debates, conservatives will be sure to use the talking points most effective with the base:  the Bible says homosexuality is a sin; marriage is traditionally between man and woman;  a mom and a dad are best for child- rearing.  The arguments have some validity to them.  But the discussion usually stops there.  I would love to ask Rep. Bachmann exactly how two people of the same sex negatively affects her or her own marriage.  Then I would ask how advocating for a constitutional amendment–in essence creating something else to be officially enforced by the federal government–does not contradict a call for limited government.  Further, I’d ask if she (or others opposed to same sex marriage on religious grounds) would advocate for a ban on divorce, since the Bible is pretty clear on that as well.

Bottom line, I’m sure that one can oppose religiously but recognize that the church and the state are two different things.  And in the absence of any substantial proof that society will end or the world will implode, there isn’t really a reason why it shouldn’t be allowed.

White House sparks controversy over Defense of Marriage Act–and I’m Torn

In 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which allowed states that did not allow gay marriage to refuse to honor such marriages done in other states.  On Wednesday, the White House sparked some major controversy when Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Department of Justice would stop defending DOMA:

President Obama has instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which has since 1996 allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex partnerships legally recognized in other states.

The announcement was made in a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to congressional leaders in relation to two lawsuits, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States, which challenge a section of DOMA that defines marriage for federal purposes as only between one man and one woman.

President Obama believes that section – Section 3 — “is unconstitutional” given the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment (including its equal protection component), Holder wrote, and the president has instructed the Department of Justice to no longer defend the law in those two lawsuits.

Here is where I am torn. On the one hand, I have an issue with the AG saying they are not going to defend a law just based on the President deciding its unconstitutional. That’s for the courts to decide. Per the article, a judge did rule it unconstitutional in 2010, but I don’t think that one judge is able to stop the enforcement of the law. If a sitting president can make such decisions, then it makes laws moot. What other laws could a president decide was unconstitutional?
On the other hand, I must confess–I don’t support DOMA. Contrary to the belief of many, traditional man-woman marriage is not under threat from the prospect of same-sex marriage. I have yet to see how allowing gays to marry (or civil unionize) has had a negative effect on marriage. It puzzles me that many on the right advocate for the government to stay out of folks’ personal business–then want the government to “protect” marriage.
So, as much as I would love to say “right on, mister prez!” my respect for the law says “not so fast.”