Back in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) morally disapproved of same-sex marriage as well as prohibited the federal government from extending over 1100 benefits to spouses of same-sex couples. Those benefits include the right to paid leave when yous spouse is sick, the right to file joint tax returns, the right to put your spouse on your health insurance and more.
Fast forward to 2013, and you’ll see that those rights are still refused, even though nine states (including Washington, D.C.) across America have approved same-sex marriage. So this makes it obvious that gay marriage is something that will always be a part of our country, but now those gay married couples want their equal rights, so they have filed a suit against DOMA.Why? Because for decades, the Supreme Court established the right to marry as a fundamental right of citizens and DOMA is a direct contradiction of that right, denying gay married couples all the fruit of the labor that is marriage.
At the oral arguments this week at the Supreme Court for DOMA, the focus in was the sad story of Edith Windsor–a recently widowed woman who had to pay $363,000 in inheritance taxes because DOMA forced the IRS to treat Windsor’s late wife of 50 years as a legal stranger to her.
Demonstrators rallied outside the Supreme Court two days in a row, waiting to hear something…anything to let them know the government was on their side via Windsor’s heartbreaking scenario. According to the New Yorker, the gay-rights movement is politically powerful and many politicians have been lining up to support same-sex marriage. Years ago, no one wanted to touch gay marriage with a five foot pole, now politicians are clamoring to get on the right side of this battle. Everyday, there are new senators and congressmen sending press releases, claiming their allegiance to the LGBT community and their rights. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is a potential swing vote, showed a willingness to rule out DOMA. He’s made decisions in the past that were favorable for gays.
However, Paul Clement, who was representing the House Republicans and also defends DOMA claimed, “Look, we are not going to strike down a statute just because a couple of legislators may have had an improper motive.”
Because times have changed, the laws should also be tweaked to reflect the times. We live in a world that gays are allowed to marry, so they should also be allowed to have benefits attached to marriage. The people in this country are starting to realize that the government should be impartial and they shouldn’t build our personal beliefs into the law’s structure.
However, we’re left in limbo, wondering and playing guessing games with how the Supreme Court will vote. Hopefully by this summer, we’ll have a decision. There’s so much momentum built up on the marriage equality side of this battle, many believe a favorable result is inevitable.
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