Today, the United States Supreme Court handed down an historic ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
It was a narrow victory, and we are still many steps away from the ideal of having same-sex marriage legal in EVERY state, but the decision today is an enormous leap in the right direction.
So…what exactly is the DOMA?
The DOMA is a federal law that defined marriage on the federal level as being between a man and a woman. While the DOMA did not bar individual states from legalizing or banning same-sex marriages, it refused to recognize the federal and governmental rights to same-sex couples, even if they married in a state that allowed and recognized same-sex marriages.
I’m sure you’ve all read the stories of the couple who married in a state that recognized same-sex marriages, where the one partner was in the hospital. The other partner was not allowed to make medical decisions on behalf of his partner, though he’d been designated as the person with the right to do so in the hospital paperwork. The ill partner’s parents received updates on their son, though their son’s husband was not included in those communications. When their son took a turn for the worse and was moved to the ICU, and visitation was restricted to immediate family only, his husband was not allowed in the ICU, as their state of residency did not recognize their marriage.
How can anyone think that a situation like that is okay? I can’t even begin to imagine the pain, fear, and grief this man went through. Thank goodness that, from the articles I read, his husband’s family was supportive, and where the hospital refused to keep him in the loop, his in-laws did.
Today’s decision basically rules that: if you and your partner marry in a state that allows same-sex marriages, then the government, on a federal level, is required to recognize that union for purposes of social security, survivor benefits, medical decision-making, visitation in circumstances where visitation is limited to immediate family, and that, for couples married in states that allow same-sex marriages, those couples cannot be denied benefits on the federal level.
The ruling today does NOT force all states to allow/recognize same-sex unions. It is NOT a federal law that allows same-sex marriage in ALL states, though in the decision today, California’s much-debated Proposition 8 (Prop 8, banning same-sex marriages in the state of California) was also overturned.
I wrote this on my Facebook Page back in May:
I really can’t stress this enough: I have many opinions on political and social issues. My political stances, I am somewhat reluctant to discuss, as they can often divide friends, create enemies, and lead to irreparable differences and divides.
HOWEVER…I am NEVER reluctant to discuss my position on social issues, and my stances can be summed up with one statement: I support EQUALITY. I don’t care what religion you are. I don’t care who you love, what your bank account looks like…I don’t care about the color of your skin, your eyes. I don’t care what you do for a living. I don’t care if you want to be able to walk around in a glass house buck naked.
But what everyone needs to understand is this: When our Founding Fathers envisioned America, they imagined a country in which no one would be persecuted for their faith, where everyone could live life as they wished in peace, so long as it didn’t harm anyone nor infringe on the inalienable rights of another fellow free human. The Constitution, The Bill of Rights…these were created to be, not set in stone and unchangeable, but to shift and adapt with changing times. And they have. Hence, the Amendments.
To actively work to DENY those RIGHTS to certain groups of people on the basis of race/gender/physical or mental disability/sexuality/religion/etc, goes against everything America stands for, and is quite possibly *the* most unpatriotic thing someone could do in that regard. Your religion is not a valid argument against equal marital rights regardless of sexuality. Your bigotry is not a valid reason for segregation. As an American, you are entitled to YOUR rights and OPINIONS, but you do NOT, have NEVER, and NEVER WILL have the right to use those opinions to infringe upon the inalienable rights of EVERY American to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.
Live your life how you wish, you can even come right out and say your opinion. It’s your right. I have a LOT of friends who fight for your right to do so. But it is not your right to lobby for legislation to take the rights that you enjoy away from others who simply want the same rights you have.
It was wrong to do it when women didn’t have the right to vote. It was wrong when a black man couldn’t enjoy a beer after work next to a white man. It was wrong when Native Americans were pushed onto reservations and denied their rights. It was wrong when Japanese-Americans (like the awesome George Takei) were pushed into internment camps during WWII.
And it is WRONG to deny Adam and Steve their RIGHT to love each other within the bounds of matrimony.
They aren’t trying to force your church to recognize marriage between two people of the same gender. No amount of legislation can force your religion to recognize what it doesn’t want to. What they want is legislation to protect the federal, state, etc governmental rights of two people of the same gender married to each other.
When a person’s partner is critically ill in the hospital, and that person can’t visit them, or make medical decisions for them, or be informed of the ill person’s progress/condition/etc, even if the non-ill partner is listed as the person to contact/inform, simply because they aren’t married (because they can’t get married in their state), then THAT. IS. WRONG.
And you are WRONG for attempting to perpetuate that denial. That is all.
*drop mic* /end rant
Bravo to the Supreme Court, for recognizing that love is not a privilege…it’s a right.