Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA: Jen Herrick

This piece is the seventh in a series of guest blog posts on “Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA.” In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court arguments on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, we’re asking friends of PFAW to share why dumping DOMA matters to them. Be sure to check back soon for the latest post in the series.

Nine years ago, as I was preparing to leave Ohio University, I said goodbye to Adam, one of my best friends. I remember writing to him in a card that I hoped our husbands would someday get to meet. That November – November 3, 2004 to be precise – I was on the phone with him, and he was heartbroken at what for many was a difficult election (including Ohio passing a state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman).

Fast forward to 2011, and a visit with Adam and his partner of several years, Michael. Marriage equality came up in conversation. It seemed to us to be possible but still five or ten years away.

Then came 2012. In May, President Obama affirmed his support for the freedom to marry of same-sex couples. In December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear cases challenging California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

With oral arguments looming at the end of the month, Adam’s reaction to the President’s announcement rings ever more true:

THANK YOU President Obama! Those of you who know Michael and I: we have such an incredibly strong, stable, loving relationship. Opening our relationship up to marriage does nothing but STRENGTHEN the institution!

That’s exactly why we should dump DOMA.

Yes, dumping DOMA is just one step on the long road to marriage equality. But it’s an important step, and one that’s many years overdue. DOMA unconstitutionally defines marriage for all federal purpose as the union of one man and one woman. That means that legally married couples in nine states and the District of Columbia are denied the more than one thousand rights and benefits that the federal government ties to marriage. That means that these couples and families aren’t afforded the safety and security that comes along with many of those rights. That means that they are discriminated against based solely on their sexual orientation.

That means that if Adam and Michael were to legally marry, despite progress made under the Obama administration, the federal government – bound by the discrimination enshrined in law – would have no choice but to turn its back on them in most cases.

That is not right. Dump DOMA.

Jen Herrick, Senior Policy Analyst
People For the American Way

PFAW
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