DOMA and Proposition 8: Marriage is a Basic Human Right

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will announce their decision in the federal law known in shorthand as DOMA and California's Proposition 8 ban. As of right now, DOMA defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and has legally kept the LGBT community from the same federal benefits that are usually available to married people. Because of this definition, DOMA gives states no obligations to recognize same-sex marriages that are recognized in any other state. As a result, a "mini-DOMA" has been enacted by many states to not recognize same-sex marriages for any purposes.

There are numerous outcomes for both Proposition 8 and DOMA. Depending on which way the court goes, the results could strike out dozens of laws which limit marriage rights to only heterosexual couples. On the other hand, the courts could also uphold the marriage bans for homosexual couples in states across the country.

While the country is bracing itself for the Supreme Court rulings, it has become rather clear that marriage equality is something that is unavoidable. In 2012, a Gallup poll reported that only 48% of the American population opposed marriage equality. This is down from the 68% of Americans who opposed it in 1996. This decrease show that the fight for marriage equality has been rather swift and, despite the normal setbacks, it could be on the brink of national legalization — something confirmed by Minnesota recently becoming the 12th state this month to legalize same-sex marriages.

Marriage has always been considered a civil right to the American population. Trying to deny that right based solely on sexual orientation is seen by many to be a clear violation of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. I, for one, agree. Everyone deserves their happiness and the Supreme Court's decision will change the face of the country if they decide to overturn DOMA and Proposition 8 or not.

However, framing the fight for marriage equality for the LGBT community as the "last civil rights struggle" is a bit misleading. It implies that only marriage is an end all for the LGBT community while this movement often ignores the glaring reality that homophobia is still rampant across the United States. Yet, this discussion seems to be reserved for another time. Right now, marriage equality has become the latest and one of the last civil right battlegrounds for the LGBT community.

Continuing to deny the privilege of marriage equality based on sexual orientation is, in my opinion, a departure from basic human rights and equal protection under American law.

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Debra Sault

Writer who is interested in human rights, global security issues, risk analysis and religion

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