No good defense of DOMA

Seventeen senators joined Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California on Wednesday in sponsoring a bill that would repeal the anti-gay marriage law known as the Defense of Marriage Act.

The law, passed in 1996, defines marriage as only between a man and a woman and allows states to refuse to validate gay marriages sanctioned in other states. President Bill Clinton, who signed the recently repealed “Don’t ask, don’t tell” into law, also signed off on DOMA.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who voted for the act in 1996, was also one of the 17 co-sponsors of Feinstein’s bill to repeal it on Wednesday.

Murray’s critics are naturally calling her a hypocrite, but getting hung up on the 1996 vote isn’t a good way to defend DOMA, if there is one. Many of the men who pushed for the law, and the president who signed it, were later scandalized for having extra-marital affairs. There’s plenty enough hypocrisy to go around. Think of former senator and serial adulterer Newt Gingrich and former senator Larry “I am not gay” Craig. Or consider the thrice-married former Rep. Bob Barr, who pushed for law and was considered one of the most conservative members of Congress during his tenure — and who now supports the repeal of DOMA.

Hypocrites and non-hypocrites can and do change their minds. Which, in non-political arenas, is often seen as strength, rather than a weakness. The recent repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” illustrates this well. Public sentiment for change coincided with a military faced with shortages of qualified personnel. A shortage compounded greatly by the fact that the military was kicking out service members for no other reason that they were gay.

A Pew Research Poll released last week shows that Americans are becoming less conservative on social issues such as gay marriage, legalizing marijuana and abortion, FoxNews.com reported. The poll shows that 45 percent of Americans favor gay marriage, while 46 percent are in opposition. Just 10 years ago, Americans opposed gay marriage by nearly 2-1.

Currently, five states and the District of Columbia permit gay marriages. Other states, such as Washington, allow domestic partnerships, which give same-sex couples most legal rights afforded married couples, but stops short of marriage. Repealing DOMA doesn’t mean other states would have to recognize the same-sex marriages as legal, but the federal government would. Same sex couples would have the full protection of federal laws, such as allowing Social Security benefits for surviving spouses.

Repealing DOMA is the first step in the right direction to the eventual inevitability — giving all Americans the right to marry.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, Dec. 1

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Macro photo of tooth wheel mechanism with imprinted RECEIVE, GIVE concept words
Editorial: We can meet increased need caused by covid

As GivingTuesday nears, consider how you can help nonprofits with the work they do in your community.

Comment: What World AIDS Day tells us about this pandemic

There have been successes and failures with AIDS, as we dealt with structural racism and gender.

Climate activists and others supporting the Indigenous group "Protectors of the Salish Sea" march with signs and drums outside the Capitol at Olympia, Wash., Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in Olympia, Wash., on the first day of the 2020 session of the Washington legislature. The group was at the Capitol to call attention to environmental issues including their demand that Gov. Jay Inslee declare a climate emergency and halt fossil fuel expansion projects in the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Comment: States serving as laboratories for climate action

The Biden administration can look to programs pursued by Washington and other U.S. states.

Harrop: How will we describe pandemic life in years to come?

Comparisons to World War II come close, but there are significant differences between then and now.

Arlington voters will decide on fire department annexation

Arlington Firefighters want to thank the City Council for placing annexation of… Continue reading

Those not following covid restrictions to blame for surge

A couple of recent letters are decrying the re-election of Gov. Jay… Continue reading

Who’s the sore loser now, Mr. President?

Imagine, if you will, the howls of protest from the right if… Continue reading

toon
Editorial cartoons for Monday, Nov. 30

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Most Read