Marriage is so gay

Zach Wiita

The U.S. Department of Justice recently compared the marriages of thousands of law-abiding Americans to incest and pedophilia. It was a strange turn of events.

Those of us who believe in all Americans’ rights to marriage equality would probably not have been too surprised to see such language in a legal brief filed by the notoriously heterosexist Bush administration. To see such language in a legal brief – filed earlier this month in support of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),” which holds that the federal and state governments can refuse to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages of individual states, in violation of the Constitution’s “Full Faith and Credit” clause – was startling, especially since then-Senator Barack Obama had promised on several occasions to repeal DOMA if elected president.

President Obama has made it clear in subsequent statements that he views DOMA as a discriminatory statute he does not support. The Obama Justice Department also clarified that the president is seeking a full legislative repeal, but that it is operating under the assumption that it is required to defend DOMA until such time as Congress repeals it. The brief itself was written by a Bush administration holdover named W. Scott Simpson – a literal case of institutional inertia.

It’s certainly understandable that the Obama administration does not wish to deal with this issue at the moment. With six or seven ongoing international crises on his plate on any given day, one can see where President Obama might not wish to indulge in a divisive part of the so-called “culture wars.” To someone who does not have loved ones and friends who are gay, it might be hard to understand that this is an urgent issue.

But an urgent issue it is. LGBT Americans are a community that federal law actively discriminates against. The natural rights of LGBT Americans have not been fully secured. Numerous states deny equal marriage rights to LGBT individuals. Federal law actively undermines the principles of federalism by refusing to acknowledge the validity of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, Iowa and other states. And this weekend in Texas, police brutality was reported in a raid upon a gay bar called the Rainbow Lounge – on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

In a country where a same-sex couple cannot so much as hold hands in public without the risk of being assaulted, it is vital that President Obama and his administration double their efforts to secure equal rights for LGBT individuals. President Obama should immediately halt discharges of LGBT personnel from the armed forces and the Uniform Code of Military Justice should be amended to decriminalize homosexuality. Congress should act quickly to repeal DOMA.

And if the legal definition of marriage is to be left to the states, the federal government should recognize the validity of all marriage licenses issued by all states – and they should compel other states to recognize valid same-sex marriages performed in other states, just as the “Full Faith and Credit” clause of the Constitution requires.

President Obama needs to act quickly. As any student of history knows, the fight for equality cannot be left to the future. It must be fought today. We must obey the “fierce urgency of now.”

Zach Wiita is a senior theatre studies and political science major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].