“Times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.” – Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
The United States Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, enumerates all the powers conferred to each of the government branches of the United States government system. If a power is not there, is because that power does not belong to the state and instead it belongs to the people. One of the powers that were left to the states by the federalist system that was established by the Constitution was the regulation of marriage. The regulation of marriage is therefore part of what is called the state’s domestic law. This power should therefore remain free of any intervention from the federal government. And it remained untouched until 1996 when former President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (D.O.M.A.).
D.O.M.A. is a federal that defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Under this federal law, no state, or other political subdivision within the United States, is required to recognize as a marriage a same-sex relationship, regardless of its validity in another state. In this sense, this federal law is an exception of the “Full and Faith Credit Clause,” which diminishes state court’s decisions and recognitions of what a family and marriage are or should be. As consequence of that, Section 3 of D.O.M.A., which prevents the federal government from recognizing the validity of same-sex marriages, has been found unconstitutional by some state courts, which rulings are under appeal. The Obama Administration had also found that some parts of the act are also unconstitutional. However, they had announced the enforcement of D.O.M.A., but not defense of it in Court. The United States Supreme Court already heard arguments in favor and against the law but has not yet made any decision.
This law not only creates a de facto federal definition of marriage to be applied nationwide indistinctively, which is no less than a clear intromission of the federal government in issues pertaining only to the people and that only the states should regulate, but is also a violation and an undue intromission to the democratic principle of the separation between the government and any religion. Most of the people standing before D.O.M.A. are grounding their support on religious principles, on the sanctity of marriage, and on the wrongfulness of any other relationship that is not between one woman and one man. The jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of the United States has indicated that for a law to pass the First Amendment Freedom of Religion Clause constitutional test it should pursue a secular purpose, it must not advance nor inhibit religion, and it should not identify or associate the state with any religion as well. The purpose of D.O.M.A. is obviously religious in the sense that if the law is held valid the same will inevitably advance religious agendas and would therefore directly associate the state’s motivations to religion. In short, in order for D.O.M.A. to be upheld, the Supreme Court should strictly scrutinized the law and make sure that the government’s compelling interest is completely divorced from any religious idea, principle or agenda.
I truly believe that too many times the government of United States has decided, and still decides, to overlook its responsibility and its legitimate obligations towards its people and the nation. We can constantly see how the federal government persistently erodes the rights of its citizens while at the same time empowers the “invisible hand” that controls everything under the sun. We are constantly bombarded with images and messages, since very early in life, about how great is the United States Constitution, and that the foundation of this society is based on the pursuit of happiness and the “American dream.” However, no one tell us about the sacrifices we will have to make to exercise the rights to be happy and to be able dream. And in this sense, no one cares about getting the right information before making any important judgment or decision or on the effects that it would have, individually and collectively.
United States is not an imperium. It cannot safeguard its own sovereign powers while corroding the rights of its people. In the same way, it can’t secretly modify its system into what the ones with access to power desire it to be. The security of this nation lies on the security and interests of its people. Therefore, the needs of the people, and not the ones of any religion or of the federal government, are the ones that should be heard and respected. The police powers of the United States government should not intervene with the police powers of the states when it comes to domestic issues pertaining only to the people of such states. And it should be centered on the benefit and well-being of the whole nation, and not only of the ones complying with its irrationalities. If D.O.M.A. and Proposition 8 are held valid, the states, and therefore their people, would have green light to continue discriminating against a community of people whose only difference is the way they select their intimate partners. Therefore, United States should follow the steps of other nations of the world and must hold D.O.M.A. and Proposition 8 unconstitutional so that every committed relationship in this nation gets the respect it deserves.