DOMA’s Gone! A Good First Step

Day Seventy-Six:  So, if gays get married this will no longer mean anything?
So, if gays get married this will no longer mean anything?

This Thursday morning I tweeted that I would need to take a look at the actual ramifications of the Supreme Court’s 26 June decisions before I did too much celebrating. I was right to have a tempered reaction. As is pointed out in the Rolling Stone story on the decision, all the overturning of DOMA does is allow for Federal rights to be given to gay couples. So they can be married in the eyes of the IRS, Federal Healthcare, etc. Now, this CAN have incredible financial ramifications, but we’re still a little ways away from gay marriage in all 50 states. Although, I wonder if the decimation of the Defense of Marriage Act leads the way to a lawsuit about states having to reciprocate marriage. I’m a little ignorant on whether states do that because they’re federally required to or because it would bonkers if you could go from married to unmarried just because you moved for a job. So there’s that.

Something the non-legal blogs/news websites aren’t focusing on is the fact that Justice Roberts appears to have truly cemented his States Rights above all else status (at least from my casual court watch point of view). He went against the repeal of DOMA because he’s a conservative, but ended up siding with the LGBT community on the California Prop 8 because that affirmed the state’s rights.

“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to,” Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, joined by Ginsburg, Scalia, Breyer and Kagan. “We decline to do so for the first time here.”

Pretty interesting there and it could make for some very interesting bets on his positions in the future – will he remain States’ Rights or go more conservative with time. Also, let me finish this post with the aside that States’ Rights has a dirty taste in my mouth since it was the rationale behind the Confederate legal argument for secession. Perhaps they can come up with a better term?

2 responses to “DOMA’s Gone! A Good First Step”

  1. I actually still think the DOMA ruling is pretty huge. Sure – it’s not ok’ing gay marriage in all states. But guaranteeing federal marriage benefits because to not do so is discrimination to me is big deal. If you can’t treat gay married couples differently, that’s only a small step away from treating gay single people differently.

    But do you think granting all these couples federal benefits would make states look at legalizing from a financial standpoint? I don’t know how all those benefits work. Would states potentially see any money coming in from gay couples gaining these benefits (taxes or health insurance?)?

    Also, I think while the Prop 8 ruling mostly only affects California right now, but I think it sets a pretty strong precedent for other states. California passed Prop 8 with a ballot initiative – which is essentially voters bypassing their elected officials. Then the state courts overturned it saying it was discriminatory. And with the Supreme Court backing that up – that sets a lot of precedent for other states to do similarly (officials not backing the voters and ruling unconstitutional).

    Side note – I don’t think marriages necessarily have to be recognized across state lines. From my quick googling – it seems like military will recognize based on where you got married, but VA and Social Security base it off current residence. I’m not sure how it works for normal people.

    • These people don’t care about money for the state. If they cared about money, most of these states (which also happen to be in the South and poor) would vote for Democrats. It’s about values-voting and values-voting is not rational.

      As for marriage reciprocity, you’re right. It turns out that states recognize marriages from other states to prevent chaos, but it’s a state thing. An article I read said that NY could tell FL, for example, that if they didn’t recognize NY’s gay marriages that NY would not recognize any FL marriages – straight or gay. That would be a disaster for the USA because it would restrict mobility of workers across the USA. We’ll see what ends up happening – it will take time, that’s for sure. I mean, look how long it took for African Americans to get truly equal treatment. (In a lot of regions they still don’t even have that)