PHOTO: gay marriage headlines on covers of 'Newsweek': 'Is Gay Marriage Next?' July 7, 2003; 'The Religious Case for Gay Marriage' Dec. 15, 2008; and 'The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage' Jan. 18, 2010. (See previous posts 'Newsweek' gay marriage covers 2003 to 2010 (1/13/10)) and Newsweek gay marriage religious case (12/10/08) where I write about the 2008 cover stories on gay marriage and religion.)
Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in another gay marriage case. This one concerned the case about the Federal Defense of Marriage Act that forbids the recognition, under Federal law, of gay marriages legally sanctioned by state laws. (See Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA Final version (Enrolled Bill) as passed by both Houses (there are 4 other versions of this bill) from the 104th Congress (1995-1996) H.R.3396.ENR posted at thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c104:H.R.3396.ENR:, John Aravosis, ""DOMA is in trouble" (quick read of Supreme Court arguments today)," americablog.com posted Mar. 27, 2013, Jim Burroway, "DOMA's Doom Appears Likely," boxturtlebulletin.com posted Mar. 27, 2013, "Special series: Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court" accessed at npr.org Mar. 27, 2013 and "Transcript And Audio: Supreme Court Arguments On Defense Of Marriage Act," npr.org posted Mar. 27, 2013)
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the other case about the legalization of gay marriage under the California Prop 8 state law. (See previous posts Supreme Court on Jack Baker's gay marriage case 42 years later (3/26/13))
Congress passed DOMA in the 1990's during a period when Republicans were successfully using gay marriage as a "wedge issue" to split off Democrats to vote for Republicans. Republicans exploited the fact that Democrats had historically supported equal civil rights for minorities and women and Democrats had chosen to remain politically silent about the equal rights of gay citizens. As a result the Republicans were able to rally their base over the fear of the gay marriage issue and turn out greater numbers to vote for Republican candidates. Also, Republicans coldly used the wedge issue of gay marriage to help get President George W. Bush get re-elected in 2004 by putting anti-gay marriage laws on state ballots across the country, including Oregon where the ballot measure was also passed as a constitutional amendment that is much harder to overturn by either the voters or courts because it would be very expensive to put on the ballot and state courts can't declare something unconstitutional that is already in the state constitution. Fortunately, the Republicans' failed in their attempt to also amend the U.S. Constitution to bar same-sex marriage -- if the U.S. Constitution had been amended to outlaw gay marriages, then the U.S. Supreme Court would have little power to rule against it.
Gay journalist Michelangelo Signorile writes about being quoted out of context by anti-gay marriage forces when he used the words "redefine marriage" in a column two decades ago: