In his personally and politically significant article about DOMA, NY Times writer Manil Suri pointed out that many people all over the world view America as a land of freedom and equality. He went on to argue that the DOMA ruling constitutes an expansion of this equality. His assessment is accurate for numerous reasons, two of which I will mention here:
1. The DOMA Overruling Challenged Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation.
For those unfamiliar with DOMA, the acronym stands for the Defense of Marriage Act. The measure is a U.S. federal law which enables states to deny same-sex married couples the Social Security and taxation benefits that heterosexual couples have. The measure also gives states the ability to render same-sex marriages null and void despite the fact that they are acknowledged as valid in other states. And what factor legitimated this act? The idea that homosexual marriages are morally unacceptable. Thus the overruling of DOMA constituted a great stride towards equality by challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation.
2. The DOMA Overruling Challenged Economic Discrimination.
As many know, married people are afforded a variety of tax benefits. In states where gay marriages are not acknowledged under the law, however, homosexual couples cannot access these benefits. This reality constitutes economic discrimination based on sexual orientation. Thus the measure putting the discrimination in perpetuity-DOMA-entails inequality by advancing the economic interests of heterosexual couples while precluding homosexual partners from attaining the same financial advantages. By overruling DOMA, the Supreme Court ensured that same-sex union couples could access the same tax benefits as individuals involved in a heterosexual union. Thus the overruling amounts to the expansion of equality by challenging economic discrimination.
Although the U.S. is still rife with discriminatory laws that make calling it an equitable nation difficult, NY times writer Manil Suri was accurate in asserting that the DOMA overruling marked a move towards the expansion of equality in America. Indeed, it was definitely a step in the right direction. Now great strides need to be made towards legalizing gay marriage in every state.
Clearly, Republicans will oppose the forward progress that is demonstrated by offering homosexual couples the same tax benefits that heterosexual partners have. (More on that in this Daily Kos diary about DOMA.) And that is why progressives must continue outlining the indigenously inequitable nature of opposition to gay marriage. In “Gay Marriage: How Opposition to it Defies Our First Amendment Rights,” I discuss the fact that most people who oppose gay marriage do so on religious grounds. In so doing, the First Amendment is violated as a law respecting a religious establishment-Christianity, namely-works to undermine the humanity of homosexuals. Other arguments illustrating how and why opposition to gay marriage limits parity abound, and they should be explained and explored by progressives seeking to make the United States a more equitable country.
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