All families, single, heterosexual, and same-sex better pop that champagne! The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which has been plaguing this nation since 1993, has been ruled unconstitutional by a New York Court. The legislation, which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions, has notoriously resulted in some state-by-state laws that deeply impact the well-being and safety of children, the financial stability of parents, and even the basic ability to parent as heterosexuals do. Well, shots on me Mommyish readers, because some judges seem to see the issue that way too.
The good news comes courtesy of the efforts of Edith Windsor in November 2010. She rightfully sued after she was informed that she had to cough up $363,053 in federal estate tax after her partner of 44 years, Thea Spyer, passed away the previous year. The couple had married in Canada in 2007, but their union was not legally recognized in the United States which put Edith in a very compromising position.
Associated Press reports that in a two-to-one decision, “a divided” federal appeals court awesomely smacked down DOMA, saying “hell no!” to the notion that legal marriage is only between a man and a woman. Judge Dennis Jacobs penned the opinion. The decision is expected to headed to the Supreme Court in 2013, which is real game time. The outlet reports the reasoning as:
…Jacobs wrote that the law’s “classification of same-sex spouses was not substantially related to an important government interest” and thus violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
He said the law was written so broadly that it touches more than a thousand federal laws. He said “homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public.”
He rejected arguments that the definition of marriage was traditional.
“Even if preserving tradition were in itself an important goal, DOMA is not a means to achieve it,” he said.
Another judge on the case, Judge Chester Straub, held the opposing view saying that the courts shouldn’t get involved in petty things like people’s flipping rights:
…if the government was to change its understanding of marriage, “I believe it is for the American people to do so.”
“Courts should not intervene where there is a robust political debate because doing so poisons the political well, imposing a destructive anti-majoritarian constitutional ruling on a vigorous debate,” he said.
An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, James Esseks, has described the ruling as “a watershed moment in the legal movement for lesbian and gay rights.” But I’m going to take it a step further and say that the decision is a pivotal moment for the children of gay and lesbian parents. While mothers and fathers, as well as the childless, have just climbed a considerably rung in their civil liberties, the progression of this ruling could mean even more for the many, many kids. Kids who are being cared for under an archaic system that refuses to empower their parents with the adequate channels to care for them. No shots for them, but some sparkling grape juice is definitely in order.