- Government may give binational same-sex couples a break.
The Obama Administration’s DHS released a statement:
[W]hen exercising prosecutorial discretion in enforcement matters, DHS looks at the totality of the circumstances presented in individual cases, including whether an individual has close family ties to the United States as demonstrated by his or her same-sex marriage or other longstanding relationship to a United States citizen.
Civil marriage is, most fundamentally, about the legal right for a couple to form a new family unit, one in which they are each other’s closest kin. The inability to do this – and the threat of being ripped apart by deportation – has been extremely cruel to gay and lesbian binational couples. This won’t solve that (but see the news about DOMA, below), but it’s a small step in the right direction.
- DOMA is heading to the Supreme Court after a big losing streak.
Since February, five different courts have ruled that section three of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. In two cases, the ruling came from judges appointed by George W. Bush.
Section three of DOMA says that the Federal government will not recognize same-sex marriages, not even for folks living in states where same-sex marriage is legal. This is enormously consequential, both symbolically and practically (people lose money, health insurance, tax benefits, the ability to have their spouse become American, and many other benefits because of DOMA). It’s also very hard to justify legally.
Although all five cases overturned section three of DOMA, they don’t all use the same logic. In particular, there’s no consensus on what “level of scrutiny” should apply when analyzing gay rights cases. This is important for future court cases; the higher the level of scrutiny applied, the more difficult it will be for the government to justify treating same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples.
Nonetheless, even if the Supreme Court overturns section three of DOMA (and I expect they will), that won’t mean that states can’t ban same-sex marriage. It would just means that, in those states that have marriage equality, same-sex marriages will be recognized for purposes of federal law.
- Democratic Party Adds Support For Marriage Equality To Its Official Platform
This is symbolic, but I’m still amazed. Ten years ago, the Democratic Party was allergic to the issue. Four years ago, no credible Democratic running for President favored same-sex marriage. Now it’s the official party position.
In the long run, this is good news for marriage equality. In the short run, this will make same-sex marriage even more of a partisan issue – but not one that Romney seems eager to talk about.
P.S. Also, Proposition 8 has been appealed to the Supreme Court — but will the Supremes take the case, or will they leave it be as a California-only victory for SSM? And, there are three state-level initiatives about marriage equality coming up. Will SSM finally win a victory in a direct vote?