Wednesday, May 16, 2012
A Little Reminder About What DOMA Really Does
The so-called Defense of Marriage Acts is one of the most blatantly discriminatory pieces of federal legislation around today. Until DOMA marriage was defined by the states, not by Congress. Republicans, pretending to uphold the powers of the states, changed that. Now state definitions are ignored for all federal matters.
What this means is that billions in extra taxes on imposed on gay couples that are not imposed on straight couples. A widow who inherits her husbands estate is taxed at a very low rate compared to the surviving partner in a gay relationship. A straight American can sponsor their legally-wed, foreign-born spouse. A gay American can NOT sponsor their foreign-born spouse even if they are legally wed. In this piece at the Moorfield Storey Institute blog, we explain how DOMA imposes massive costs on private businesses and punishes them economically if they hire gay employees.
This video highlights another result of DOMA. We all know that the odious Don't Ask, Don't Tell legislation, that discriminated against gay people in the military, has been repealed. But DOMA mandates that the military pretend that the gay people they know exist, are not in relationships, even when they legally marry. That impacts the spouses of gay military personnel in various ways.
Consider the case of a service member who is sent to Afghanistan. If he, or she, is killed while on duty, the military will inform the surviving spouse, but ONLY if the spouse is of the opposite-sex. DOMA mandates that the military ignore all marriages, no matter if they are legally entered into, between same-sex individuals. If the service member is killed the military will not call the spouse of a gay service member as they are NOT considered next-of-kin.
If the service member comes from an anti-gay family, they, not the spouse, will be informed. And they have the option of whether or not to inform the surviving partner about the death. Sadly, there are bigoted families that will refuse to allow the spouse to know. That is the point this commercial brings home. Only the gay spouse of a service member could be the last to be told their partner is dead. They are the mercy of the family of the service member. If that family is fundamentalist Christians they may well choose to have the body sent home to them for burial. They can decided to bury the deceased without ever informing the spouse of the arrangements, the place of burial, or even that their partner has died.
THAT is what DOMA does. Spinning this as a defense of "states' rights" is not going to change the nature of DOMA. It is FEDERAL legislation, that ignores the states when it comes to defining marriage. That is not protecting their rights, it is stripping them of those rights. It imposes billions in regulatory costs, subsidizes discrimination against gay people (see the Storey blog post on this) and mistreats millions of gay Americans.