Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Federal Court Upholds DOMA

The US District Court for the Middle District of Florida has upheld the Defense of Marriage Act in Wilson v. Ake. Technically the first decision on DOMA's constitutionality was In Re Kandu and Kandu, but that was a Bankruptcy Court case and thus has no precedential value. Like Kandu, the opinion is quite well-written and supported. It made very few new findings of law, instead making clear arguments based on precedent that showed why its hands were tied.

One of the cases in which the Court relied upon (in order to reject the plaintiff's "rational basis" objection) was Lofton v. Department of Children and Family Services, (en banc rehearing denied). Since the ruling was by the 11th circuit court of appeals, and this district court is bound to that precedent, the court rightly said it could not go against Lofton, and I don't dispute that. I just want to take this time to reiterate my objection to that case, which I think was legally shoddy and logically incoherent. Had Lofton gone the other way, then I think the Court could have easily rejected the federal government's rational basis defense (whether it would have is another question).

Meanwhile, Oxblog makes a great point with regards to why allowing gay marriage is a Conservative position. Drawing from the text of the majority opinion in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health (the Massachusetts gay marriage case), we get quotes like this:
"[C]ivil marriage enhances the "welfare of the community." It is a "social institution of the highest importance." Civil marriage anchors an ordered society by encouraging stable relationships over transient ones. It is central to the way the Commonwealth identifies individuals, provides for the orderly distribution of property, ensures that children and adults are cared for and supported whenever possible from private rather than public funds, and tracks important epidemiological and demographic data.

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. "It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.""

Compare the dissent:
"The marriage statutes do not disqualify individuals on the basis of sexual orientation from entering into marriage. All individuals, with certain exceptions not relevant here, are free to marry. Whether an individual chooses not to marry because of sexual orientation or any other reason should be of no concern to the court."

As Oxblog correctly asks: "tell me again, which side is trivializing marriage?"

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