DOMA Finally Got The Message of RESPECT

by Paul Meshanko

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According to a Time article online:

“Seventeen years after a Democratic President signed a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down on Wednesday, capping one of the fastest civil rights shifts in the nation’s history.

In a landmark 5-4 decision, the Justices ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by bipartisan majorities and signed by President Bill Clinton, is an unconstitutional violation of the Fifth Amendment.

The court broke along familiar ideological lines, with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the majority opinion, joining his four more liberal counterparts. “DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment,” Kennedy wrote. Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito filed separate dissents to the court’s decision. Scalia delivered a lengthy and scathing oral dissent in court after the decision was announced.

The offending section of the law, which sailed through Congress in 1996, restricted gay couples from receiving more than 1,000 benefits accorded to married couples, even if they were legally married in the states where they reside. In a forceful indictment of the law, Kennedy cited the contradictions between state and federal statutes as among the reasons for striking down the measure.”

Read the full article.

The history behind DOMA is hard to fathom in that it has taken 17 years for the United States Supreme Court to do the right thing and respect everyone with the same rights for marriage regardless of their sexual orientation. It comes down to keeping erroneous emotional judgments out of what should be freedom for everyone. It also comes down to having respect for differences across the board.

Unfortunately our celebration for the end of DOMA has taken much longer than the nanoseconds of a sound bite to have the Supreme Court do what should never have happened in the first place.

The book, The Respect Effect by Paul Meshanko could be a very timely read for state law makers regarding legalization of gay marriage. The power of respect can also be measured in dollar savings in avoiding EEOC litagation, increase in respectful workplace productivity and the increase in emotional well being for those who now no longer have the absurdity of DOMA.