Friday, March 29, 2013

The issue of Marriage Equality

Well, the Supreme Court arguments last week are now history and we wait for their decision.  I'm guessing they will punt on Prop 8 saying there was no standing and the case should not have been appealed once the State of California was no longer interested in defending it.  Those who pursued the defense had no legal standing to do so.  That will mean the last court ruling in which the State of California was defending Prop 8 will be the final decision.  If that is how they rule, the case will have little effect beyond California in the march toward equality.
I think they will make a decision concerning DOMA.  While the Attorney General was no longer defending it (the executive branch), the House of Representatives was so I don't think they can punt based on standing.  My guess is that DOMA will be ruled unconstitutional but I'm not sure if it will be the 14th amendment or that the Federal government overstepped states rights.  That will be the most interesting part.
The biggest argument against marriage equality was centered on the notion that procreation is the central purpose for marriage.  If the only benefits of marriage revolved around children, that could make some sense but most of the benefits of marriage have nothing to do with procreation at all.  In the DOMA case, one plaintiff was an 83 year old widow who was forced to pay over $360,000 to the IRS in order to keep the home she and her wife had shared for more than 40 years.  If she had been married to a man, she would not have needed to pay that - even if they had no children.  Procreation is not the central issue.
The inheritance tax issue is just one of 1100 benefits married couples enjoy - most having nothing to do with procreation.  This is an issue of fairness and equality.
Judge Scalia asked when it became unconstitutional to discriminate against gay people.  I would say as soon as the constitution was drafted.  It's simply taken this long for enough people to speak up and say so.  It's taken this long to overcome the fear of repercussions like loss of a job, and even loss of life.  When discrimination is prevailing and accepted, it takes great effort to overcome.  We've had to hear the real stories of real people who have been harmed by the effects of discrimination.  We've had to overcome the myths and lies that justified the discrimination.  And we have had to force the issue until it could be raised before the Supreme Court.
I marvel at the notion some claim, that marriage will be forever re-defined if equality is granted.  I cannot imagine any two fully committed people feeling any less committed by someone else's marriage.  But if they feel they need some clarification, let them say they are "Mormon married", "Johavah Witness married",  "Methodist married", "Catholic married" or "Bible Baptist married".  That should make a clear statement.  It won't mean they are any more or any less committed in marriage.  It also should not give them any more or any less Federal benefits.

No comments:

Post a Comment