Massachusetts Daily Collegian

DOMA and Prop 8 must be overturned

By Jillian Correira

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On December 7, 2012, the United States Supreme Court announced it would hear two cases in reference to same-sex marriage: the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California Proposition 8, or Prop 8. The oral hearings for Prop 8 and DOMA are predicted to take place on March 26 and 27 respectively, and the Court’s decisions are anticipated on or around June 27.

DOMA has been the anchor legislation behind the illegality of same-sex marriage in the United States since former President Bill Clinton signed it into law on September 21, 1996, in what was probably the worst policy decision of his career (but only the second worst of his personal life!). DOMA defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman, and declares that same-sex marriages in one state need not be recognized by another. Section 3 of DOMA, a substantive part of the law, fails to recognize same-sex marriages for basically all federal purposes, including the filing of joint tax returns and Social Security survivor’s benefits.

Prop 8 is a state constitutional amendment which declares that only a marriage between a man and a woman will be recognized in the state of California. It was passed in the November 2008 state elections. And while President Barack Obama has made it clear in his Inaugural address that gay people have the right to be married “under the law,” the administration has been silent about its view on Prop 8. In a recent editorial, The New York Times noted that while the administration indicated that they will weigh in on DOMA, they have not done so for Prop 8, and they are calling on Obama to have his solicitor general file a brief opposing the proposition.

Ultimately, these Supreme Court hearings will decide whether or not to sustain these pieces of legislation. But if our trusted members of the court would like to be morally right (and legally correct) then the decision is clear: DOMA and Prop 8 must be declared unconstitutional.

Initially, it should be an easy decision for the Supreme Court to make. Sexual orientation can be classified as an immutable characteristic, an innate or unchangeable quality in a person or class of people. This would mean that discriminatory laws in opposition to these characteristics, such as DOMA, or more specifically, Section 3, are unconstitutional. It’s that basic and legally accurate. It is the Supreme Court’s job to be legally accurate, isn’t it?

Still, there are other non-political and supposedly “morally righteous” reasons behind DOMA and all legislation like it. It starts with the history behind the protection of “traditional marriage,” that is, marriage between one man and one woman, in the U.S., which has been a long and tiresome one. Normally a conservative view, the basis for this platform is largely religious, but it also extends to the belief that since marriage is an institution that allows for procreation and warrants familial stability, it can only be sustained and biologically fulfilled with heterosexual couples.

First, it’s unfair to impose religious doctrine on a population of people who don’t all share the same religious affiliation. It doesn’t matter whether or not the Bible says same-sex relationships are wrong for the simple fact that not everyone believes in, or is required to believe in, the Bible. Religion becomes an invalid and dismissible aggressor in regards to marriage equality when we live in a country where we are obligated to, and should, practice religious freedom.

Second, to honestly believe that only heterosexual couples are able to raise a child in a stable family environment is to contribute to the horrific systematic oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender demographics in America and all over the world. There have been absolutely no studies conducted to prove that as a whole, LGBT community members are unfit to participate in child-rearing. This line of thinking is catastrophic to societal progression and reveals a fundamental lack of compassion for the LGBT community.

But, recent patterns show that less and less Americans are endorsing the antediluvian “traditional marriage” theory, with this past 2012 campaign serving as irrefutable evidence of the population’s acceptance of liberal ideologies. Same-sex marriage referendums passed in four out of four states during this election cycle, and polls are now showing unmitigated majorities in support of this institution. In fact, public opinion of same-sex marriage has been one of the most rapidly evolving in reference to social change. In 1996, 68 percent of Americans opposed marriage equality and 27 percent were in support of it. Now, in 2012, 46 percent of Americans are in opposition and 53 percent support it.

If the U.S. constitutional process isn’t enough for the Supreme Court to make the right call, then these staggering numbers coupled with society’s auspicious outcry for change at the ballot boxes this year should be satisfactory. Even still, it’s a shocking realization that we live in a country where, historically, the decision for same-sex couples to marry has been made for them by a political legislative body. Such a personal occasion is being litigated as formal policy based on the prejudiced belief system that somehow same-sex couples aren’t worthy of protection under the same rights as the rest of the country.
There is an intrinsic hypocrisy to this belief that protecting a more “traditional” America is beneficial to society. We’re to believe in “the land of the free,” yet same-sex couples are methodically oppressed daily by archaic statutes; we live in “the home of the brave,” yet even our own politicians are afraid of progressive societal measures that might “ruin the sanctity of marriage” and take all of America’s conventional values down with it.

It’s hard to take this longing for a more “traditional America” seriously, especially when discussing marriage equality, because homosexuality will never regress. If anything, the relatively small percentage of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in America will only increase as humanity becomes more accepting of this inherent truth. Our government has shamed itself long enough in making the lives of people unnecessarily and exponentially more difficult in a world where the odds are already stacked against them, and it’s time they accept what is right.

Jillian Correira is a Collegian contributor. She can be reached at [email protected]


4 Responses to “DOMA and Prop 8 must be overturned”

  1. David Laughing Horse Robinson on February 1st, 2013 2:06 pm

    The Fourteenth Amendment of U.S. Constitution covers this kind of Discrimination in DOMA. Equal Protection means equal for everyone not just the few or mighty. This case, if it is ruled unconstitutional, will solve many problems that Native Americans face in the courts also. It is being argued correctly by stopping the political and corporate powers in there tracks in how they control and sidestep the Constitution rather than the Court following and interpreting the Constitution. In short, Let the Court do its Constitutional duty and quit handing cases over to Politicians who have taken money to make an issue go away. The U.S. Constitution is the law and it is not a political question to be legislated. This according to the Constitution the Jurisdiction belongs to the Court only.


  2. Bot on February 6th, 2013 2:39 pm

    Marriage reflects the natural moral and social law evidenced the world over. As the late British social anthropologist Joseph Daniel Unwin noted in his study of world civilizations, any society that devalued the nuclear family soon lost what he called “expansive energy,” which might best be summarized as society’s will to make things better for the next generation. In fact, no society that has loosened sexual morality outside of man-woman marriage has survived.

    Analyzing studies of cultures spanning several thousands of years on several continents, Chairman of Harvard University’s sociology department, Pitirim Sorokin. found that virtually all political revolutions that brought about societal collapse were preceded by a sexual revolution in which marriage and family were devalued by the culture’s acceptance of homosexuality.

    When marriage loses its unique status, women and children most frequently are the direct victims. Giving same-sex relationships or out-of-wedlock heterosexual couples the same special status and benefits as the marital bond would not be the expansion of a right but the destruction of a principle.


  3. Thomas Alex on February 9th, 2013 8:15 pm

    Marriage is the most basic fundamental right of free men, this is what the US Supreme Court has ruled nearly a dozen times. And according to the 14th Amendment, all Rights and Privileges must be granted on an Equal basis under the Law. Denying Gay and Lesbian American’s this basic fundamental Right is unconstitutional. I am faithful the Supreme Court will legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, in June.


  4. Davester on March 9th, 2013 4:05 pm

    The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

    WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

    ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

    IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

    THE FIRST COMMANDMENT that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

    WE DECLARE the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

    HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

    THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

    WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

    WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.


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