Posted by Sandi on Feb 23, 2011 in GLBT Rights
, Political Thoughts
So it seems that Obama has made good on his promise to defend the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender citizens. First by the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and now by refusing to defend the “Defense of Marriage Act” as Federal Law, and declaring a key section unconstitutional.
In a letter to Speaker Boehner, Attorney General Eric Holder explains:
“After careful consideration, including review of a recommendation from me, the President of the United States has made the determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), 1 U.S.C. § 7, i as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.”
This is an extremely BIG and strategic move by the Obama Administration to defend the rights of those same-sex couples who have legally been married by law in states where their love is recognized (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, Connecticut & Washington, D.C.). I have previously written posts about the effect DOMA has had on same-sex couples’ ability to relocate for jobs where marriage isn’t recognized and its effect on those couples in which one partner is not a U.S. Citizen. This new recognition of Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional will allow for Federal recognition of same-sex marriages that have been performed in those states and countries where its recognized. This means that same-sex couples could file their Federal Income Taxes jointly, and perhaps even apply for spousal Citizenship.
The best part of the Administration’s argument against Section 3 of DOMA’s constitutionality is that they can demonstrate that GLBT citizens are a protected class under the “Equal Protection Clause.” Despite the fact that the “political process is not closed entirely to gay and lesbian people” the courts have judged ”political powerlessness” based upon the class of people having been subject to “heightened scrutiny.” To prove this “heightened scrutiny” – the Justice Department is using the Congressional record from the dates on which the passage of DOMA is being argued:
“The record contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships – precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.vii See Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 448″ (Holder’s Letter to Boehner)
Holder has given the Speaker until March 11th, only two weeks to act and respond. All this in the middle of a major budget debate, with the possibility of a government shutdown. Speaker Boehner & the House GOP Majority is not too pleased with this, as noted in this statement:
“While Americans want Washington to focus on creating jobs and cutting spending, the President will have to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation.” – Office of Speaker Boehner
To which I reply: “what jobs?!” – the last month the GOP has been cutting funding to vital services that aid women and families, while simultaneously cutting 800,000 federal jobs. The Republicans have used “controversial issues” like “gay marriage” and “abortion” to win multiple elections and ballot initiatives across the country for the past 20-30 years. Stop being a hypocrite and take it like a man (or maybe you should just cry, like you usually do).
Posted by Sandi on Dec 23, 2010 in GLBT Rights
There is no greater roadblock to marriage equality than the Defense of Marriage Act. Passed in 1996, before any state recognized the right to marriage equality, DOMA does not recognize same-sex marriage on the National level, while allowing states to determine their ownacceptance of same-sex marriages performed in states that recognize this right.
Ann Belser of the Pittsburgh Gazette perfectly outlines the confusion and inconsistency of DOMA, “. . . a couple can get married in Massachusetts, drive to New York where they can’t get married but where the marriage is recognized, then pass through New Jersey where they will be considered ‘civilly united,’ before they hit Pennsylvania where the marriage doesn’t exist at all.”
When a couple gets married and commits to a life together it doesn’t usually include a geographical limitation to where you can or cannot plan your future. What about the individual in a same-sex marriage that gets a job offer in Virginia, where they have a Constitutional Amendment against same-sex marriage? Should “Joe GLBT” not take the job if it means that his legal union would no longer be recognized? DOMA creates extreme limits on an individual’s freedoms to simply work and live.
And what of those relationships that don’t work out? The U.S. has one of the highest divorce rates in the world with 3.4 marriages out of 1,000 ending in divorce according to the CDC. With same-sex couples now getting married in greater numbers, it can be expected that some of these will unfortunately not work out. Thomas W. Ude, Jr., a senior attorney for the Lambda Legal Defense Fund points out that to get a divorce, a member of that couple must be a resident of the state where the marriage is recognized. So if “Joe GLBT” took the job in Virginia and they both moved to Virginia, not only would their marriage not be recognized, but they wouldn’t have the right to suspend their marriage where it is legally documented.
Crossing a border should not limit a person’s basic legal rights to love, work and live.
Posted by Sandi on Nov 14, 2010 in GLBT Rights
You said, “I do” to the words “Do you take ________ to be your lawfully wedded husband/wife.” For many couples simply moving to a state that recognizes same-sex marriage would allow these words to change your life for the better. That marriage certificate gives you the legal rights afforded to any married couple within your state, and even the few other states that also recognize your union, but what if the person you love isn’t from the United States? For many individuals and couples, the road to U.S. citizenship is not easy. Having worked on asylum, residency andcitizenship cases as a paralegal I can tell you it is a long and arduous process for all involved.
For heterosexual couples, marriage to a U.S. citizen gives a non-citizen the ability to apply for and become a citizen, but same-sex unions are not recognized nationally thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act. So that means that even if your marriage is legally recognized within your state, you are prohibited from receiving the Federally accepted legal benefits of marriage – aka. citizenship. Same-sex couples that include a foreign national can’t even enter the immigration process through marriage and have an even larger battle ahead.
Blogger Keith Berner recently, spoke about this issue on Left-Hand View, a local DC regional Blog. His friends, David & Sam struggle with this predicament everyday, since Sam is a Korean National who has been living in the U.S. for years on both student and work visas. For now, he can remain the country with David, but if he loses his job he will need to leave his love or risk deportation.
An acquaintance of mine has already had to make the incredibly hard decision of remaining in the U.S. or leaving to be with his husband. Originally from Colorado, he has been living in Belgium with his husband for the past 3 years where same-sex marriage is legal. He would love to return to the States, but he knows that his husband would not legally be allowed to return with him. Their marriage, while recognized in the many countries in Europe still won’t be accepted in the United States.
No couple should be placed in this difficult position. Love should not be limited.