Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Against Civil Rights?

Written by Holly Robin. Posted in Military, National

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Published on July 21, 2011 with No Comments

Repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has recently been depicted in the media as a civil rights matter.  Three years after the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy (DADT), the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) hit the law books, and now has been an obstacle for homosexuals in the military who wish to get married.  Why?

Well the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was a law passed in 1996 that gave individual states the ability to decide whether or not they would recognize same-sex marriage within their boundaries, regardless of what other states are doing.  The Human Rights Campaign or HRC gave an example of what the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) means for couples of the same-sex.

Defense of Marriage Act will not allow for same-sex couples to be acknowledged as man and wife on a federal level.

Have you ever heard the policy of the military regarding homosexuals in service?  In case you have not, it is known as “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) and it means exactly that.  The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is an organization dedicated to defending the rights of gays, lesbians and bisexuals (LGBT) service members.  On The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a page explaining the history behind the policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). SLDN states that it was a passed by Congress in 1993 and it mandated the discharge of openly gay, lesbian or bisexual service members. They also said that over 14,500 service members have been fired under the law since it was passed in 1993.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) had a second purpose when it was created, to define the terms marriage and spouse on a federal level.   Under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) marriage is regarded as “a legal union between one man and woman as husband and wife”.  This is where the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) works against those who fight to defend it, the United States Military.

Repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy may eliminate seclusion of those service members who are gay, lesbian or bisexual.  However it does not grant married couples of the same-sex the same benefits received by heterosexual couples. In San Diego the Huffington Post was covering what the LGBT service members plan to do on the official end of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, marriage seemed to be the perfect way to celebrate.  Unfortunately the latest issue that the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is dealing with, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Although it has nothing to do with the act of marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is creating a separation by denying same-sex couples from receiving the same benefits as heterosexuals in the military.

Defense of Marriage Act and gay marriage in the military

When there is a base transfer the military avoids having service members in a heterosexual marriage transfer to two different regions, same-sex couples would not apply.  Also same-sex marriages would not be entitled to an increase in their salary the same way heterosexual couples would, based on additional living expenses occurred.

Throughout the country there is growing support to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) based on it being an infraction on civil rights. According to the LA Times Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) testified at a hearing yesterday comparing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to segregation rules set during his childhood in the South. “My entire childhood, I followed signs that said, ‘white restrooms, colored restrooms, white water fountains, colored water fountains,’ ” Lewis said. “We look back on that time now in disbelief, and one day we will look back on this period with that same sense of disbelief. … All across this nation, same-sex couples are denied the very rights that you and I enjoy.”

 

Lewis brings up a good point and hopefully the United States can truly become one nation, under god, with liberty and justice for all.  Senator, Christopher Coons (D-Del.) also was quoted in the LA Times for being a man of faith in support of the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) claiming that faith does not empower an individual to interpret the will of God.

The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (NIV, Romans 13:8-10)

The bible does not use the words homosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual in any of its passages that I have studied, instead it uses the word love and claims it shall fulfill the law. Will the acceptance of love prove more powerful than the written law found in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)?

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (IGLA) ten countries including Canada, Norway, and Argentina recognize same-sex marriage on a national level.  Currently the United States is categorized as being in the gray area.  Same-sex marriage may finally have the green for go on a national scale if the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is decided to infringe on civil rights.

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