While the rest of the nation sports red, white and blue this Fourth of July, the LGBTQ community will exude every color of the rainbow in celebration.
Five Supreme Court justices made history last Wednesday by declaring section three of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in the case of Windsor vs. the United States.
The repeal of DOMA’s section three was a huge step forward for the LGBTQ community, yet it was also a reflection of our country's flawed political system. The Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA was not only a key turning point in the fight for gay rights, but also a chance for our nation to right some past wrongs against the homosexual community.
According to Cornell Legal Information Institute, after her spouse’s death, the IRS denied Edith Windsor nearly $400,000 of the New York spousal state tax exemption because her same-sex marriage was not recognized for federal tax benefits under the Defense of Marriage act.
The Defense of Marriage Act, more commonly known as DOMA, came into effect in September 1996 under the Clinton Administration. The policy denied legally married same-sex couples over 1,130 legal rights and responsibilities given to married couples by federal law.
In one month, the 13 states that recognize same sex-marriages will be required to provide people within these unions the rights of fully married couples.
The repeal of DOMA was the much needed, starting gunshot in the race for marriage equality.
Unfortunately for same-sex couples, the moral debate over their lifestyle will never end as long as religious conservatives continue to live and breathe. But, they are one step closer to receiving the equality they deserve.
Prior to the Windsor case ruling, same-sex marriages were comparable to children playing house. These couples received hardly any financial benefits or protections in contrast to their heterosexual counterparts. With the repeal of DOMA’s section three, the full definition of marriage has been restored to these unions and they will be rewarded for their lifetime of devotion to one and other.
This makes one wonder why DOMA was enacted in the first place. After all, what is the point of allowing gays to marry and then denying them the full legal rights of traditional marriage?
The answer: It was the year that President Clinton faced re-election. Unfortunately for him, democrats had lost their numbers within both the House and the Senate, and his support was dwindling.
In order to not seem ultra-liberal to voters, it was necessary for him to support the conservative motion. Richard Socarides, who served as Clinton’s senior adviser and special assistant during his presidency, wrote in The New Yorker that Clinton “got boxed in by his political opponents, and that his campaign positions on gay rights ran ahead of public opinion.”
For Clinton, this was all a political move based on numbers and he wasn't alone. His democratic support within the House and Senate had the same worries.