USA: Prop 8/Defense of Marriage Act Update 3/6/13

Written by scott on March 6th, 2013

Prop 8News is still percolating in the Prop 8/Defense of Marriage Act cases before the US Supreme Court this month. First off, The Washington Post discusses the amicus brief filed against DOMA by the NAACP:

The 73-year-old civil rights organization was founded to battle racial discrimination in the courts. No surprise, then, that the LDF was at the Supreme Court last week fighting for the Voting Rights Act. But it also had no problem arguing that the struggle for marriage equality for same-sex couples is in line with the battle against the “separate but equal” doctrine that blocked blacks from pursuing the American dream.

From the brief itself:

Of course, the nature of discrimination against gays and lesbians differs fundamentally from de jure racial segregation, just as racial discrimination differs from discrimination based on sex and other suspect classifications to which heightened scrutiny applies. But DOMA and other laws that purposefully infringe on the rights of gay people are analogous to the racial caste system effectuated under “separate but equal” in an important respect: they create and perpetuate a social hierarchy that is premised on the superiority of one group over another. By virtually any measure, gays and lesbians have been subjected to systemic discrimination throughout our nation’s history, resulting in their ongoing subordination as a class. And DOMA’s express purpose is to create and perpetuate a hierarchy that disadvantages gay people based on their sexual orientation…..

Defense of Marriage ActOn Top Magazine looks at another brief, this one filed by the Family Equality council hilighting the voices of children of same-sex parents:

“The voices of children raised by same-sex parents – those who live every day within the family structure at the heart of these lawsuits – are too often unheard in the debates about same-sex couples and marriage,” the brief’s authors wrote. “Although those who oppose marriage for same-sex couples frequently make assumptions about the quality of the children’s family lives, the children themselves are rarely asked to explain what they actually experience.”

Over at OA Online, Jacob Sullum makes the interesting argument that a US Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality could actually invalidate civil unions and domestic partnerships:

The administration argues, rather counterintuitively, that California’s decision to treat gay and straight couples the same but for the word marriage makes its policy more vulnerable to constitutional challenge than a policy that does not recognize same-sex unions at all. Why? Because the only point of withholding the label is to mark gay marriages as inferior, a goal motivated by “impermissible prejudice,” which is not a constitutionally valid reason for treating people differently under the law.

Think Progress has a list of Senators who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act but now oppose it:

Just 17 years ago, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed the U.S. Senate on a devastating 85-14 vote. But since 1996, at least 21 of the Senators who voted for the marriage inequality legislation have changed their minds.

And finally, Queerty reports that a 6th grader, daughter of a lesbian couple from North Carolina wrote to each of the nine Supreme Court Justices about marriage equality, and to date, only one has responded:

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was moved enough by Cameron’s plea to take some time out of her busy, federally-appointed schedule to write a friendly response: Dear Cameron, Thank you for writing to me. I always enjoy reading letters from young students. Unfortunately, I cannot comment on issues that might one day come before the Court, so I am unable to respond to your letter regarding marriage. I encourage you, however, to continue to think about the many important issues that impact our society. I know dreams can come true when you work hard to achieve them. In the years to come, I wish you the joy of dreaming big, working hard, and succeeding in all that you do.


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