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Gay Marriage- Explained

Gay Rights: From DOMA to RFSA

by @AIPChristina of

Anyone that is involved with the gay rights movement, either for or against, is well aware of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In case you don’t know about it, let me catch you up. DOMA was signed into law back in 1996 by then President Clinton. The purpose of the rather fast passage was the fear that Hawaii was about to legalize gay marriage. What’s the problem with that you may be asking, well I’ll tell you. Before the passage of DOMA, the federal government was basically required to acknowledge any legal marriage performed within the United States. Hawaii is of course a state, so they were worried about having to recognize any gay marriages, so in order to stop that, they quickly passed DOMA. So DOMA makes it so the federal government cannot recognize gay marriage and it also allows individual states to decide if they want to recognize the marriages as well.

Now, with all that straightened out, we can move on to the main topic of discussion. Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed and sent to the Senate the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA). This new legislation will repeal DOMA, which is long overdue in my opinion and the opinion of many people. The likelihood of RFMA becoming law though is pretty slim because even though the Senate is controlled by Democrats, the House is in Republican hands and I just don’t see them passing this. The biggest problem though is that RFMA doesn’t go far enough. Yes, it does repeal DOMA and it forces the federal government into recognizing gay marriage but what it doesn’t do is to make states recognize them as well.

I want to make sure this next point is crystal clear. I am not saying that every state should legalize gay marriage. Obviously that is the ultimate goal but I believe that every state should have the right to decide if they want to allow gay marriages to be performed within the state. My problem is that a state can decide to not even recognize the marriage, like the state I reside in, Michigan.

Article IV Section 1 of the US Constitution there is what is called the Full Faith and Credit Clause. What this does is requires to states to respect “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.” Last time I checked, a marriage would fall into this clause but what DOMA did was allow states to throw this clause out when it comes to gay marriage. What’s interesting is that because of DOMA, a state could legally not recognize a straight couple’s marriage as well. That would probably never happen but can you imagine having to remarry your wife or husband every time you moved to a different state?

So, when people ask my partner or me why we haven’t gotten married yet I tell them that the reason is simple, “because where we live won’t recognize it.” Remember, without everyone having the same rights as everyone else, America doesn’t live up to its potential, the potential that was laid out in the Declaration of Independence that all men/everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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