Saturday, June 22, 2013

DOMA is Doomed

Spending my day off obsessively watching episode after episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” on Netflix of course has me thinking about the idea of marriage. Why do it? What’s the benefit? Is it worth the money? And, of course, the last one brings us to a much more serious point: Why, as a gay man, am I not allowed? With the decision coming down the pipe from the US Supreme Court on not only the constitutionality of DOMA but also on California’s Prop 8 the whole nation is bracing, for good or ill, for a momentous change. As this is happening though conservative are, of course, letting their voices be heard by announcing a pledge that they will defy any decision toward marriage equality with signers ranging from religious figures to political leaders. Before we cast stones at these zealots, let’s take a look at the facts.

On the table we have two different decisions: DOMA and Prop 8. The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, decision will determine whether or not barring same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits as a married couple is constitutionally allowed. While this benefit would do nothing for couples who are not living in states that recognize same-sex marriage, those living in the handful of states that do will finally receive benefits from the feds if it is overturned. Prop 8 on the other hand is a little trickier here. We got options. Prop 8 could be overturned on the ground of federal constitutionality and thus overturn all gay marriage bans in the United States leading to full legalization. More likely the Supreme Court will say that it is unconstitutional IN CALIFORNIA ONLY and allow gay marriage there. The case could even be thrown out altogether leading to, again, gay marriage in California. So what is this pledge thingy?

Banning together under the veil of religious expression, hundreds of religious Americans have signed onto a pledge that they would ignore any decision passed down from the Supreme Court that would spell marriage equality. Using key buzz words and phrases such as “freedom”, “society”, and “faith”, the two page letter creates a nation that is apparently being overrun by the power of the judicial branch which, in their mind, should not have any power at all. As they put it, “Unlike the Legislative Branch that has the power of the purse and the Executive Branch which has the figurative power of the sword, the Judicial Branch has neither”. So for them this decision is one that in going against their religious freedoms from a branch of government that they see as being powerless. But, if one actually reads the document, what is very obviously lacking is any sort of plan of what to do. It reads more like a tantrum from a snotty toddler than a document with weight and purpose.

Photo - Rep. Sally Kern - AP Photo
So what can these individuals even do? Considering the list of individuals signed on board with this pledge I am going to say not very much. Out of the hundred some odd people who have given their names for this, there is only one person who currently holds a seat in a United States government position and that is Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma’s 84th House District who is, unsurprisingly, a Republican and who could be shocked to read this when this is the same woman with such famous statements as “We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school?” and that women earn less than men because they don't work as hard and have less initiative. So it’s not like her inclusion onto this pledge comes as any kind of surprise. From there we ramble onto a list of various figured ranging from Peter La Barbera, the Preside of “Americans for Truth About Homosexuality” to Dr. Warren Guy, a pediatric dentist. Seems to me like this list is missing the key political weight it needs to even matter.

Look, the fact of the matter is that this is going to happen. Gay marriage, one way or another, is going to be legalized. The cards are falling into place now and finally we are closer than ever and these religious yahoos and simply using it as an excuse to try to stay relevant but it is obviously not going to work. The biggest knock here is the fact that they couldn’t even get big name Republicans to sign on. Where are the Rush Limbaughs and Sarah Palins of the world? Not here because even they are realizing that in order to keep their jobs they have to stay on the right side of history and calm it down a little. This letter is nothing more than a piece of paper trying to stop a rolling boulder. Sorry Dr. Guy. Go back to the spit bowl. I’m gonna get all kinds of gay married.

I’m out!

Twitter: @BettencourtP

Works Referenced:
-"Sally Kern." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2013.
-Rayfield, Jillian. "Oklahoma GOPer: It’s A Fact That ‘Blacks’ Don’t Work As Hard." TPM. N.p., 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 22 June 2013.
-McNutt, Michael. "Kern Apologizes for Comments on Minorities and Women; NAACP Says It's Not Enough." NewsOK. N.p., 29 Apr. 2011. Web. 22 June 2013.
-Gates, Sara. "Conservatives Pledge To Defy Any Marriage Equality Ruling The Supreme Court Reaches." Huffington Post. N.p., 22 June 2013. Web. 22 June 2013.
-Bloomfield, Aubrey. "Supreme Court DOMA: The Anachronistic Law Must Be Struck Down." Policy Mic. N.p., 22 June 2013. Web. 22 June 2013.
-Phillip, Abby D. "Supreme Court DOMA Ruling Looms Over Immigration Overhaul." ABC News. N.p., 17 June 2013. Web. 22 June 2013.

-Freedom Federation. "We Stand in Solidarity to Defend Marriageand the Family and Society Founded Upon Them." Scribd. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2013