The DOMA hearing’s opening remarks by Chairman Leahy, described DOMA (which he voted for in 1996) as going against family dignity and applauded Obama’s endorsement of the Respect of Marriage Act. Senator Feinstein who introduced the Respect of Marriage Act defined the hearing as a “historic day.” The Respect of Marriage act repeals section 2 of DOMA and amends the definition of marriage and signifies “for the purposes of any federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual's marriage is valid in the state where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any state, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a state.” It would also take out the definition of spouse as defined by DOMA.
The hearing consisted of emotional stirring stories about same-sex couples who had partners preceding them in death causing them to be in financial turmoil. Actually, most of the stories were about financial decline and less about actually reclaiming the “value” of marriage. According to same-sex marriage supporters this “value” of marriage should be afforded to all those that choose to marry because of, as Chairman Leahy says, it is “fundamental to people’s lives…the affect of DOMA goes well beyond the harm of family’s dignity.” That is what I thought the “big deal” was about? I think this also gives room to deconstruct same-sex marriage supporter’s primary argument. I will address this later on.
Although I will not exhaust the list of arguments for and against DOMA I will just touch on a few:
Those in support of DOMA repeal:
1. That it does not provide same-sex couples with financial benefits afforded to them by the federal government. This would include benefits like spousal benefits for federal employees, health insurance benefits, FMLA benefits, veteran benefits, tax benefits etc. In addition to these benefits, according to The Williams Institute same-sex couples “are treated as legal strangers” when it comes to inheritance tax.
2. Same-Sex Marriage should be socially accepted because it is a family value. According to The Williams Institute, “marriage is the social institution that largely governs intimate relations in the United States. As a result, they feel DOMA is perpetuating a stigma towards the LGBT community that further causes an emotional burden on couples and families. Finally, it has the likelihood to destroy families; those same sex couples who have children. It would send mixed messages to their children and would also create fear of financial tensions that would cause inability to raise their children well.
Those in defense of DOMA:
1. As one of the DOMA panelist asked, “why is government in the marriage business?” could best be a guiding question toward establishing those that are in support of DOMA. The repeal would not be representative of the American people’s values. Austin Nimmocks, Attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, cited a National Research Survey conducted in May that stated 62% of American people agree that a union should between one man and one woman. “It’s not a just a law or creature of statute but a social institution that has universally crossed all political, religious, sociological, geographical and historical lines” said Nimmocks. Repealing DOMA would mean that the states whose voters have defined marriage as a union between a man and woman would have to accept other definitions and benefits based on these definitions on other states. This seems unfair to the other states that have defined marriage as such and would be unconscionable.
2. The interest that Government has on marriage is because it has a return, an economic gain. More importantly, the outcome of opposite-married couples is procreation which same-sex couples cannot do. This is not an attack on same-sex couples, but is just as much a promotion of healthy, whole marriages. Studies have shown that those that have children in healthy married homes have the highest net worth, combat child poverty and promote emotionally stable children.
Senator Franken tried to break down the Christian ministry: “ Focus and the Family” Tom Minnery’s justification for the beneficial outcomes of children living in an opposite-sex, married couple’s home as opposed to a same-sex, married couple’s home, because of Minnery's use and interpretation of the concept “nuclear” in the research that he was using. Franken, claimed that the report did not define the family as having, one man and one woman and in fact the report could be in favor of same-sex couples. Those in opposition of DOMA use the very same argument as conservatives regarding children growing in a healthy, loving home. However, there is only small amount of same-sex couples who have children and not enough data to demonstrate any correlation to support their arguments. This was extremely debilitating for conservatives, but ADF attorney Nimmocks was there to get the ball back in the conservative court.
The value of marriage is not just accessing federal benefits and it should not be defined by government. That is what is missing from this debate. Additionally, all people face the same financial threats. If that were the case we should sign every bill that would potentially be a financial disadvantage to American people. If you do not want to tread on the religious waters of defining marriage you can tread on its social conception, I think. It has been defined by the sociological origin of humanity…to procreate, joining one man and one woman together creating families to contribute to a thriving society. Although religious liberty is said to not be threatened if the repeal of DOMA goes through, religious institutions do not have to formalize or perform same sex marriages in violations of its faith. And although religion does not command civil law, it does shape what I personally endorse and believe in.
Senator Coons exclaimed that he is married and a Christian and that his faith should not inform his politics or “empower him to have a monopoly on the interpretation of the will of God.” He further went on to say that when New York passed same-sex marriage bill, ‘his wedding ring and marriage did not magically dissolve or disappear…the bill is about restoring rights not taking away.”
Well Senator Coons, I am a Christian and I believe wholeheartedly in what the Bible says as it brings form to the Christian faith. One pivotal point in the Bible, the story of God’s redemptive plan, starts with God fashioning one man and one woman in his image for his unique and divine purposes. Creating a sacred relationship that emulates God being Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Although, I do not want to get in a theological conundrum it is important and I think is principal that our faith does inform our political and social worldviews. Just like Jesus was a great example and offered a unadulterated, moral witness, Christians are also called.
Senator Schumer, (who is in support of the repeal) closed with this quote from Martin Luther King Jr., which was quoted wrongly and used for evocative purposes: “The ark of history is long it bends in the direction of justice.” Martin Luther King’s actual quote which was taken from Theodore Parker, was “ let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” Let’s put this quote in context Senator Schumer and for all those that try to say that the gay agenda is akin to the civil rights movement. That is mockery and as a black person I cannot tolerate it.
What Martin Luther King also said in the speech that contained the aforementioned quote to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was this:
He said, in other words, "Your whole structure must be changed." A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will "thingify" them - make them things. Therefore they will exploit them, and poor people generally, economically. And a nation that will exploit economically will have to have foreign investments and everything else, and will have to use its military might to protect them. All of these problems are tied together. What I am saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, "America, you must be born again!"
Finally, and I will not expound on this too much because it tells of itself about how this quote was used in context, shows that Martin Luther King Jr. would not agree with what a lot of gay rights leaders are using to provoke their movement:
Justice: Having God suffer humanity, die on the cross for a sin-sick people so that we may be forgiven of our sins and not suffer the wrath that we imminently deserved. Loving us by sending his son Jesus as the atoning sacrifice and that through him we may be reconciled and receive eternal life. Now we remain hopeful and are strengthened by His Holy-Spirit while we await his return. That is justice and that is justice I seek to proclaim. I love my homosexual brothers and sisters but I would not be an advocate of justice if I didn’t stand for Jesus and that is in truth and LOVE.