My way is the only way. Your way is wrong.
That’s basically what the proponents of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) have been saying for years, imposing on others their belief that marriage is defined as strictly between a man and a woman. It was really more an argument of semantics than one of ideology. Domestic partnerships? Civil unions? Sure, those are fine, but don’t you dare call it a marriage.
Marriage, it’s been argued, is a sacred bond, a holy union between husband and wife in the eyes of God. To a certain extent, I can get onboard with the sanctity argument. What I never understood, however, is that for the opponents of DOMA, it was never about semantics or labels. They didn’t care if you called it marriage or partnership or civil union. Heck, you could even call it a contractual obligation.
No. The real issue in the fight against DOMA has always been about equality under the law. It’s always been about two people of the same sex sharing their lives and their love together, and being afforded the same protections and benefits as two people of the opposite sex doing the same exact thing.
You’re a woman, therefore you can’t vote. Your skin is black, therefore you can’t drink from this water fountain. You’re bound to a wheelchair, therefore we won’t hire you. These are all prejudices from which we’ve separated ourselves as a society. Our nation has evolved to accept that women are just as capable as men. Our country has grown to understand that skin color does not make one inferior. We’ve learned to look at individuals with disabilities as people who demand to be treated with humanity and compassion, and not as societal cast-offs.
As of today, our friends in the LGBT community are no longer on the outside looking in. They, too, are now afforded the same protections as heterosexuals in the eyes of the law. Citing a violation of equal protection, the clause in the 14th Amendment that reads, “no state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” the Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.
What I find most fascinating is how offensive the Defensive of Marriage Act really was. For literally thousands of years, homosexuality has been part of the human race. For years to come, homosexuality will continue to be part of the human race. If my neighbors are gay and married, or my coworkers are gay and married, I don’t understand how that impacts my ability to love my wife. I don’t understand how the relationship of a gay or lesbian couple threatens the relationship I share with my spouse.
Plain and simple, it doesn’t. So someone tell me … what was DOMA defending against? It was a ridiculous notion in 1996 to suggest that affording same-sex couples the right to marry, and thus the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples, would somehow dilute the institution of marriage. That somehow marriage was being ‘attacked’ by the LGBT community, not to mention their liberal supporters. Rather, DOMA was an effort on the part of stringently conservative group of legislators to impose on this country their personal sense of morality and doctrine. President Obama said it best in his statement following the SCOTUS decision that DOMA was, “discrimination enshrined in law.”
In the end, equitable is equitable and love is love. What is afforded to one citizen of these United States of America under our Constitution must be afforded to all other citizens of this great nation of ours. And regardless of which side of the argument you find yourself, there is no denying the notion of freedom and justice for all is the backbone of the word equality.