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www.ambiente.us   JULY| JULIO 2010

In defense of Same Sex Marriage
By Carlos T Mock, MD

Since Same-sex marriage in the U.S. began on May 17, 2004 in the State of
Massachusetts; for 14 years courts and many Americans began to change their minds
on the subject.  However, the Federal government has clung to its official definition of
marriage as only between a man and a woman. On Thursday, one of the most
conservative federal judges, Judge Joseph L. Tauro—named by Reagan—in the same
state where it all began, finally stood up and said there was never a rational basis for
that definition.  The outcome he reached is long overdue.

The unsustainable Federal definition of marriage is contained in the Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. At the time,
there was no legal same-sex marriage in the United States. But now five states and the
District of Columbia issue licenses to all couples. Because of the federal law,
thousands of couples in those states cannot receive the same federal benefits as
opposite-sex couples, including Social Security survivor payments and spousal burials
in national military cemeteries.

Even though there were two cases brought to the judge, Judge Tauro arrived at his
conclusions from a case brought by a gay rights group, that the marriage definition
violates the equal-protection provisions of the Constitution. There is no rational basis
for discriminating against same-sex couples, he ruled, discrediting the reasons stated
by lawmakers in 1996, including the encouragement of “responsible procreation” and
traditional notions of




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marriage and morality. In this
argument, he was helped by the
Obama administration’s obligatory
but half-hearted defense of the law,
which since last year no longer
supports Congress’s stated
reasons.

In their wisdom, our Founding
Fathers established a government
ruled by separation of powers, with
one branch specifically dedicated
to protect the rights of minorities,
like  homosexuals—from the
whims of the majority: The Judicial
Branch of our government. Courts
should generally give Congress
wide deference in writing laws, but
should not be afraid to examine
them when challenged, to make
sure they do not discriminate
unfairly against an unprotected
minority. The Defense of Marriage
Act was passed and signed as an
election-year
.
wedge issue, and the brief debate leading up to it was full of bigoted attacks
against homosexuality as “depraved” and “immoral.” One congressman said gay
marriage would “devalue the love between a man and a woman.” Laws passed on
this kind of basis deserve to be upended, and I hope Judge Tauro’s equal-
protection opinion, which, for now, applies only to Massachusetts, is upheld on
appeal.

In his 2003 dissention of the famous Lawrence v. Texas case, Justice Antonin
Scalia actually predicted this moment would arrive. That decision left laws
prohibiting same-sex marriage “on pretty shaky grounds,” he warned, since it
undercut the traditional moral basis for opposing homosexuality. The Justice
Department cited those words when it abandoned its defense of the law as related
to procreation, which, in turn, helped lead to Thursday’s decision. The process of
justice can take years, but in this case it seems to be moving in the right direction.

---------------------------------------------
Dr. Carlos T Mock is a native Puerto Rican who resides in Chicago, IL and Three
Oaks, MI. He has published four books and is the GLBT Editor for Floricanto Press
in Berkley, CA. He contributes columns regularly to Windy City Times in Chicago,
Ambiente Magazine in Miami, Camp Newspaper in Kansas City. He's had several
OP-Ed published at the Chicago Tribune. Inducted in the Chicago Gay & Lesbian
Hall of Fame October 18th, 2007.   He can be reached at: http://www.carlostmock.
com/

CLICK HERE for more Carlos T. Mock

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