How You Can Both Support and Find Fault With The ‘DOMA Is Unconstitutional’ Ruling

It’s unconstitutional for the federal government to pass laws superseding state authority — and the judge did affirm states’ rights in this area. But I personally believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman and support any state passing laws affirming the sanctity of marriage.

—Steve V. Moon, “a software programmer and founder of,” as quoted in the Times, explaining why he both backs and detests Federal District Court Judge Joseph Tauro striking down DOMA’s Sec. 3. And it’s this type of logic that shows no matter how many victories there are in explaining the logic of inequality, it won’t matter to those who oppose marriage equality.

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  • reason

    You can’t legislate away hatred, in the short term, those battles will be fought on the street corners of America. Legislation can make the lives of some a little bit better, and dampen the stigma placed on the discriminated group. Only time and understanding will soften the hearts of those who hate, but judging by history it is safe to say that some individuals are incurable. At the stage when an individual is conceding their own rights and beliefs in order to hurt someone else that they have no relationship with, one must wonder about the type of evil that exists amongst us.

  • Dan

    The States-rights guy misunderstood the ruling. It is not that the federal government cannot supercede the states’ authority. It is that the 10th Amendment says rights not innumerated in the U.S. Constitution are left to the people. But that also means that states violating any part of the U.S. Constitution are still under federal authority to enforce the federal constitution and supercede state authority in doing so, such as – and to the point – the 14th Amendment, Equal Protection under Law.

  • Brutus

    @Dan: The Tenth Amendment reserves unenumerated rights to the States respectively (provided they are also not prohibited to the States) or to the people. So the holding of Massachusetts v. United States is–as the “States-rights guy” correctly observed–that the federal government cannot supersede state authority by assuming powers that are properly left to the States under the federal constitution. You are correct that the States still cannot violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. And what the States cannot do under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the federal government is equally forbidden to do by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. In Gill v. OPM, the companion case to Massachusetts v. United States, Judge Tauro separately held that § 3 of DOMA violates that equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Presumably that means that the Fourteenth Amendment should likewise destroy all of the state mini-DOMAs. I buy that argument, but obviously I’m biased. Point is, in one case Judge Tauro said “government can’t make a distinction between same-sex and mixed-sex couples for this purpose.” In the other case, he said, “IF a government CAN make this distinction, it has to be a state government — the federal government can’t do it.”

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