Integrity Legal

13th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that issues surrounding same sex marriage have recently been analyzed by mainstream media outlets. To shed light upon this development further it may be best to quote directly from an insightful article written by Tara Siegel Bernard on the official website of the New York Times, NYTimes.com:

“There is the possibility that, even without DOMA on the books at all, that a married same-sex couple might not be treated as married by the federal government as to some particular program, benefit or obligation because of simply how the particular federal program determines eligibility in looking to state law to see if a person is married or not,” said Gary Buseck, legal director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders…But legislators have come up with a fix. The Respect for Marriage Act, which was introduced in both the House and Senate in March, repeals the Defense of Marriage Act and  also includes a provision — known as “certainty” — that says marriages that are valid in the state where the couple got married will be recognized in other states for the “purposes of any federal law in which marital status is a factor…”

The administration of this blog strongly recommends that readers click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more.

In previous postings on this web log it has been pointed out that the ramifications of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) are such that discrimination results for same sex bi-national couples as well as the LGBT community at large. In recent years, legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda have introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), the Reuniting Families Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act. The Respect for Marriage Act would seem to have been designed in order to deal with some of the more glaring separate sovereignty issues that arise in the context of intraState, interState, and State-Federal recognition of same sex marriage. To expound upon this more it may be best to quote further from the aforementioned article:

Technically speaking, he said, the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act on its own should be enough for couples to receive federal recognition. But the certainty provision would also protect couples if a less gay-friendly administration interpreted the repeal more narrowly, and only recognized same-sex marriage for couples who lived in states that recognized their marriage. Mr. Moulton said that his organization was still working with members of Congress to build support for the bill, and educating them about “the concrete harms that DOMA has done to same-sex couples…”

For those who read this blog with any frequency it has, no doubt, been noticed that the administration is in opposition to the very existence of DOMA as that legislation infringes upon the sovereign rights of the States and the people to make decisions regarding the licensure of marriage and the maintenance of consensual relationships, respectively. That stated, since DOMA is still “on the books” it currently results in the separation of same sex bi-national couples in an immigration context and discrimination against the LGBT community in a broader sense. This certainty provision noted above is interesting as it pertains primarily to Federal rights and privileges in an interState context. Therefore, if a same sex couple marries in a State which legalizes and/or solemnizes same sex marriage, then the Federal benefits derived therefrom would likely travel with that couple no matter what State they travel to and no matter what Federal benefit they seek. This blogger would argue that perhaps this scenario would already occur pursuant to the privileges and/or immunities clauses, but in this situation it may be best to have some legislative guidance in order to streamline possible future policies pertaining to same sex marriages. As of the time of this writing UAFA, the Respect for Marriage, and the Reuniting Families Act have yet to be adopted, but hopefully, for the LGBT community’s sake, that will change sooner rather than later.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.


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