Last Wednesday, President Barack Obama ordered the Justice Department to no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being strictly between a man and a woman. Obama’s reasoning for his order was that the act was unconstitutional based on its discriminatory nature and because of America’s turbulent history with discrimination, according to a CNN article from Wednesday.
But the announcement does not necessarily change how same-sex couples are legally viewed 8212; at least not yet. According to a Monday article from NPR, the act will still be in effect until Congress repeals it or until a higher federal court declares it unconstitutional.
It seems as though Obama’s announcement has put this section of the act into critical condition, especially because its eradication will remove a strict definition of marriage from U.S. law, which is what many of those who are against same-sex marriage are hanging on to. Without DOMA’s Section 3, there will no longer be a set definition within the law for opponents of same-sex marriage to refer.
Without a definition of marriage in the U.S., it seems as though it is almost left be redefined, as many countries around the world already have. Countries such as Argentina, Norway, South Africa and Canada all allow same-sex marriage, while countries like Germany, the United Kingdom and Colombia all recognize same-sex civil unions, and these are not the only countries that do so.
So why not the United States? Are we, as a country, still so afraid of change that we refuse to allow the progress that so many other countries have already enacted? DOMA is an obviously discriminatory act because it is based on fear. It is a denial of basic rights based on the subjective definition of love. With laws such as DOMA, the goal seems to be to deny same-sex couples their rights so that maybe they will go away, which seems very reminiscent of the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century.
Because DOMA denies same-sex couples the rights of a married couple, this affects their taxes and Social Security benefits, among many other things, according to the NPR article. When it was enacted, it affected exactly zero couples, according to NPR, but as the issue has grown, the amount of couples affected has grown as well.
According to the CNN article, when Obama announced his decision, the GOP was outraged and called it a distraction from more important issues, such as the economy. In that case, why spend so much time on the definition of marriage? When so many other countries already allow same-sex marriage or some form of it, why are we so far behind? Is our puritanical society really leaving us so far behind other countries that we are unable to allow other citizens basic civil rights?
Having an open mind never hurt anyone, and it would not hurt to give it a try.
KC Aransen is a sophomore psychology major from Arlington.