You know people talk about the law as if it were a black and white issue when in reality there are so many varying shades of gray that it is sometimes impossible to fathom all the possible outcomes of any one case. Just last week I was reading an article about the pressure that our lovely new fearless leader is facing because he doesn’t know who to support on an issue of partner benefits for federal employees. Well, the state of California recognizes these couples as legally married same-sex couples who should be able to have benefits for their partners but because of DOMA that isn’t true federally. Now I’m not a lawyer and I don’t necessarily understand all of the legal jargon that goes with this but I will say that I think it is problematic when states are allowed a certain type of behaviour while the federal government will go and contradict them. This is not to say that I agree with the federal government (in this case… and come to think of it most cases, I tend to favor what they are doing in California) but it still causes problems within the legal system of this country. Even if the law is not black and white it is still supposed to provide some sort of guideline to allow for equal rights for our citizens. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is doing such a great job of that right now.
I sincerely hope that President Obama will take this seriously enough to understand that he did campaign on some very serious promises for change and I understand that the financial crisis may be taking precedent right now that does not mean that this is something that can be avoided or left unaddressed. Personally I am thrilled that there are some judges who are willing to say what Judge Reinhardt did. This one bit of the article really struck me as something I wish more people would consider:
Judge Reinhardt confronted the question differently, and concluded that the Defense of Marriage Act, as applied to Mr. Levenson’s request, was unconstitutional because it violated the Fifth Amendment guarantee of “due process of law.”
“A bare desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot provide a rational basis for governmental discrimination,” Judge Reinhardt wrote.
In adopting the Defense of Marriage Act, Congress said the government had a legitimate interest in “defending and nurturing the institution of traditional heterosexual marriage.”
But Judge Reinhardt said the denial of benefits to same-sex spouses would not encourage gay men and lesbians to marry members of the opposite sex or discourage same-sex marriages.
“So the denial cannot be said to nurture or defend the institution of heterosexual marriage,” the judge wrote.