Wednesday, March 04, 2009

GLAD anti-DOMA suit is double-edged


American University Law professor Nancy Polikoff has an interesting entry today about the current GLAD lawsuit that attempts to overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, actually (yes) signed by President Clinton, on equal protection grounds. Her (“Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage”) blog is here with the applicable posting March 3, referring to the “Hidden inequities behind anti-DOMA litigation”. GLAD’s own link for the lawsuit is here.

On Feb. 14, Dr. Polikoff wrote an interesting post, “how about the freedom not to marry?” Indeed, most of the time we’re obsessed with making all the benefits equal, and we miss a much bigger point about marriage. That is, the whole practice of institutionalizing procreative sexual intercourse as a lifelong proactive obligation carries with it the “benefit” of socializing people (even adults) who never marry. This issue did come up in her book “Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage,” which I reviewed on my books blog here (Sept. 21, 2008). I’ll repeat one quote (p 151) from the book again here because it is so telling:

“A gay man with no partner or children may be the one among his adult siblings best suited to move in with, support, and care for an aging parent and grandparent.”

It’s not unusual for unmarried family members to wind up with responsibility for parents or for even siblings’ children, yet it can make them feel like “second class citizens” if they had not been “competitive” enough to have their own children. Yet, this used to be widely accepted as part of family loyalty and cohesion; plenty of movies have been made about it.

Ruth Marcus has an interesting op-ed on the DOMA litigation on p A15 of the Washington Post today (March 4, 2009). The piece is called “A Daring Test Case for Marriage,” link here. She writes “The great unknown of constitutional law is the degree to which guarantees of due process and equal protection extend to gay rights” and that’s obviously the case with issues like gays in the military. Obama has expressed support for gay unions, but his administration’s Justice Department will be obligated to defend the constitutionality of the law. I’m glad I’m not a lawyer working for somebody else, having to make their arguments.

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