(for the other 95% of America)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Obama May be Forced To Take a Stand on Same-Sex Marriage

Over the past two years, President Obama has managed to avoid a political showdown regarding same-sex marriage, but two pending federal lawsuits are now threatening this fragile balancing act. To date, executive officials have been upholding the Defense of Marriage Act (which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriage) by citing their duty to defend Acts of Congress. In general, the Obama Administration has previously been able to downplay 'family value' issues in the last two elections, which normally tend to get a lot of conservative voters to the polls. More attention has been put on the economy and jobs in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Democratic legislators across the country have also been grappling with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual) issues concerning marriage over the past decade. California voters passed the infamous Prop 8 Law in 2008, which denied same-sex couples the short-lived right to marry -- 173 days to be exact. But Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown refused to defend the prop in court, which basically ended up nullifying the voter-passed initiative. The Obama Administration is essentially facing the same dissonance between its responsibility to defend the law of the land, or force the federal courts to prove why there has to be a separate set of laws for the gay community.

The New York Times reported today that "Some conservatives have accused the administration of throwing the fight by not invoking other arguments, like morality. And in particular, lawmakers' primary focus in 1996," (when DOMA passed), "was 'encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing....' [but] other cases disavowed that rationale, noting that infertile heterosexuals may marry and citing studies that children raised by same-sex parents are as likely to be well-adjusted as those raised by heterosexuals."

Not only should Obama ask himself whether certain individuals' moral beliefs should be imposed onto everybody else -- which they shouldn't -- but he should also ask himself whether or not he learned anything at Harvard Law School. I find it hard to balance the fact that our president studied constitutional law at the most prestigious university in the world, and also thinks that gay people should have a 'separate' institution of marriage called civil-union, 'but equal' in that it affords them all the same rights. How can he square this rationale when everything history teaches us tells us different?

The Obama Administration has until March 11 to decide whether or not to defend DOMA. The United States is indeed exceptional, and as the president noted in the SOTU, we were the first country in history to be founded on an idea -- that all men are created equal, and possess the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hope our administration makes the decision to live up to these firmly held values.

Further Reading:
NY Times: Lawsuits on Same-Sex Marriage May Force Administration to Take a Stand

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