Integrity Legal

10th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Navy, that indomitable symbol of America’s prowess on the high seas, has taken steps to begin solemnizing marital unions between those of the same gender. To quote directly from the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — Navy chaplains will be trained about their ability to perform same-sex civil marriage ceremonies under new guidance that would take effect if the Defense Department moves to recognize openly gay military service. Navy officials said Monday that they updated the training after questions came up about civil ceremonies for gay couples. Military training to apply the new law allowing gays to serve openly began earlier this year, and is expected to be complete by mid-summer.

For those who are unfamiliar with this topic it should be noted that the relatively recent repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has resulted in the need for measures to integrate members of the LGBT community into the American armed forces. One component of such an integration is that same sex couples be permitted to marry, especially in State jurisdictions which explicitly allow such unions. However, this issue is not exactly “cut and dried,” to quote further from the aforementioned article:

The Navy ceremonies would be allowed at military facilities such as chapel and catering centers, but only in states that already recognize same-sex unions. And, even if a marriage is performed, same-sex partners would not get any health, housing or other benefits that are provided to married couples involving a man and woman.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks noted above to read this story in detail and learn more about these issues.

Clearly, there exists a States’ Rights component to the analysis of same sex marriage especially in light of the fact that 6 sovereign States and the District of Columbia have begun legalizing and solemnizing same sex marital unions within their respective jurisdictions. However, the final sentence of the above quotation should be concerning to same sex bi-national couples and the LGBT community as a whole. Although it is certainly positive that the American Navy is taking steps to begin solemnizing same sex unions while the overall legal stature of such unions is being determined, same sex couples are likely to continue to find themselves the victim of discrimination and double standards within the current American legal system.

Presently, there are cases in the judicial system which address these issues, but they have yet to take legal effect. Meanwhile, legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler have supported legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which would deal with the American government’s current discrimination against the LGBT community. Until such time as federal legislation is passed to repeal the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), or judicial action is taken to overturn this legislation, it would appear likely that same sex couples will continue to be the object of discrimination notwithstanding the fact that such discrimination (regardless of whether it is being carried out under the “color of law”) violates Americans’ natural rights pursuant to ancient notions such as Magna Carta and the specific provisions protecting free association within the language of the U.S. Constitution. Meanwhile, there is a strong argument that the federal government’s current failure to recognize same sex marriages solemnized and/or legalized within the jurisdiction of a sovereign American State violates the 10th Amendment of the Constitution since the provisions thereof reserve certain rights to the American States and People, respectively.  Licensure of marriage in an intrastate context has long been viewed by many Constitutional scholars as an exclusively State prerogative.

For related information please see: LGBT Immigration.


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