Gays, Marriage, the Constitution, and Defense of Marriage Act....

February 24, 2011

Irrespective of your view of gay marriage, if you studied Constitutional Law you had to conclude that the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] wasn't constitutional. Essentially, this Clinton era legislation was to appease those who didn't like the idea of homosexuals getting married - this Federal law provides that a state is not required to recognize same sex marriages conducted legally in another state.

This became big news this week when the administration announced it no longer intended to waste time and energy enforcing the law. For students of the Constitution, however, it's not really big news except that a government employee has openly sided with reality.

The problem with the law is a provision in the U.S. Constitution that requires one state to provide "full faith and credit" to the public acts, laws, and court decisions from every other state: Article IV, Section 1. In simple terms, this means such things as a court ruling in one state being entitled to enforcement in another, or a contract validly made in one state is enforceable in another.

When the DOMA was enacted, it was my first reaction that the law violated this provision of the Constitution. There is a strong need for too many politicians to make it look like they are doing something to satisfy their core constituents. Where I have a problem is that they won't admit that they are wasting a lot of time and effort on window dressing to satisfy the ignorance of the voters. Unfortunately, those who claim to want strict enforcement of the country's founding document really only want to enforce the parts of the Constitution they like best, and don't see the hypocrisy. After all, the document is more than the 2nd amendment.