Equality II

This is an update from my last post about the DOMA and Prop 8 cases. It was just announced that the 9th Circuit Court lifted the stay on the ruling and same-sex couples in California can now get married again! This comes as welcome and exciting news to many of us who believed it would be at least a month or so until marriages could resume in California.

Also, only hours after the DOMA ruling, California Senator Diane Feinstein reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) into the Senate with 40 co-sponsors. The same bill was simultaneously introduced into the House of Representatives with 160 cosponsors. The RMA is a bill that would completely overturn DOMA. The recent Supreme Court ruling only struck down section 3 of DOMA, meaning the federal government now recognizes same-sex marriages performed in states where it is legal. However, section 2 of DOMA, which allows non-equality states to continue to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, still stands. RMA would eliminate that and same-sex marriage would effectively exist in every state in the US. That is, although every state would have to recognize same-sex marriages, not every state would perform such marriages for the time being, assuming the passage of RMA.

To clarify, prior to the DOMA ruling, a same-sex couple could get married in Maine, for example. Their marriage would only be recognized in Maine and the other states that recognize same-sex marriage. Following the DOMA ruling, the federal government now recognizes such a same-sex marriage performed in Maine and other equality states, which brings with it numerous federal benefits such as tax advantages. If RMA passes and DOMA is completely eliminated, then such a same-sex marriage in Maine should be legally recognized in every state, even states like Texas and Mississippi. Again, those states would still not perform same-sex marriages, but theoretically a resident of a non-equality state could simply get married in an equality state like Maine and then return to their home state and have full marriage recognition. Even if RMA fails in the House, it’s very likely a same-sex couple will soon sue a non-equality state for recognition of their marriage performed in an equality state. This would essentially follow in the footsteps of interracial marriage (see Loving v. Virginia (1967)) and it’s apparent from the court’s DOMA ruling that they would easily find section 2 of DOMA to likewise be unconstitutional.

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