The Civil Rights Movement of our generation

Jessica Johnson

Adopted in 1996, DOMA states that marriage will remain between a man and woman and that same-sex couples will be denied the rights of marriage. DOMA also states that same-sex marriages performed in other states do not have to be recognized in states where it is in place. This act is adopted on a state-to-state basis. Right now, the only section of the act that is being challenged in court is the recognition of same-sex couples for federal programs.

In various federal courts, DOMA has been ruled unconstitutional. That decision has been appealed, and now the Supreme Court will hear the case and make the final decision. One common misconception about DOMA is that it will legalize same-sex marriage in all states.

This is not true. According to the federal document, DOMA only applies to marriages performed where it is legal. If it is ruled unconstitutional in the Supreme Court, it will require all states to recognize the marriages between same-sex couples and give them the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

The issue of same-sex marriage is one that has become what I think is the Civil Rights Movement of our generation. LGBT people are fighting for equality the same way that blacks did and the same way that women did. The Defense of Marriage Act is one big obstacle that is holding the gay community back.

If DOMA gets repealed, same-sex couples will have all of the benefits that heterosexual couples have, and this is the step that needs to be taken to get the progress that we need as a country.

I believe that the courts will find DOMA to be unconstitutional. The reason I believe this is because of the way the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause can be interpreted. The clause states, “No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” In order to keep DOMA, the courts would have to argue that members of the LGBT community are not people. Since DOMA has to do with federal protection and federal programs, interpreting the 14th amendment this way, DOMA, or at least that section, would have to be repealed and should be declared unconstitutional.

The part of DOMA that is causing the biggest controversy is section three.

According to the DOMA federal document, this section states, “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

I believe that this section will be declared unconstitutional if the 14th Amendment is interpreted in a way that says that same-sex couples married in a state that same-sex marriage is legal should get the same benefits in other states, simply because not doing so will contradict the first decision and lead to more time in court.

Our country is on the path to equality. With an unprecedented shift in support for LGBT rights, the government can no longer ignore this fight. I strongly believe that in the near future everyone will have the right to marry who they love and that everyone will have all of the same benefits, no matter what.

Filed Under: Opinion

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