Administration to Massachusetts: “You Can’t Force Us to Treat Gay People Equally”

Timothy Kincaid

November 2nd, 2009

The State of Massachusetts is suing the Federal Government over what is, at heart, a states-rights issue.

For the history of our nation, the states have the right to determine and define marriage. Although the US Supreme Court placed limitations on the definition, barring states from denying mixed-race marriages, the states have enjoyed broad freedoms in this area. The age one can marry varies, as does blood test requirements, residency rules, pre-marital counseling, closely related relative rules, and a number of other issues.

And for the history of our nation, the Federal Government has said that if your state recognized your marriage, they would as well.

Until 1996. That year the Federal government passed the Defense of Marriage Act, in which it said “The federal government defines marriage as a legal union exclusively between one man and one woman.”

In 2004 Massachusetts began allowing marriage between persons of the same sex. But the federal government, for the first time, refused to recognize the state’s legal marriage. So Massachusetts is suing the feds claiming that not only do they not have the right to define marriageas “a legal union exclusively between one man and one woman”, they don’t have the right to define it at all.

The Obama Administration, announced that while the President opposes DOMA, his administration will defend it in court. On Friday we got a taste of the direction of that defense.

The Department of Justice is entirely ignoring the rights of states to have their marriages recognized and is instead posturing the argument as that of a state trying to dictate the benefits policies of the Federal Government.

Stating that “There is, however, no fundamental right to marriage-based federal benefits,” the feds are saying that therefore they can pick and choose to whom they will provide benefits. They are, of course, failing to acknowledge that such benefits are, and have always been, based on qualifications that are defined by states. (A/P)

Justice Dept. spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said any state “can allow gay and lesbian citizens to marry and can make its own decisions about how to treat married couples when it comes to state benefits.”

“Massachusetts is not being denied the right to provide benefits to same-sex couples and, in fact, has enacted a law to provide equal health benefits to same-sex spouses,” she said.

But the issue isn’t about forcing the Feds to offer joint tax returns; rather, it is much bigger. It is about whether the State of Massachusetts is truly free to define marriage for the residents of their state or whether that determination has been transferred to Congress.

Perhaps the administration believes that DOMA will be reversed before the SCOTUS could hear this case. Otherwise, I’m not sure that they are pursuing an argument that holds much weight.

Either the Federal Government recognizes marriages as defined by the states, or it has some unique recognition of its own. Either it accepts the registration of the states, or it applies a consistent nation-wide registry with rules relating to age, blood-line, testing, counseling all consistent from sea to shining sea. And considering that states have jealously held family law as their purview, such a usurpation of states’ rights would likely result in political revolt.

But without such a registry, the feds may be facing a tough legal challenge. It is difficult to argue for recognition as defined by the various states – with a narrow exception solely to exclude same-sex marriages – without running foul of the problems that Colorado found in Romer v. Evans. You cannot create and define a group of people solely for the cause of denying them the rights shared by others. And with a handful of states now recognizing, registering, and solemnizing same-sex marriages, excluding just those couples seems to me to be a clear violation.


November 2nd, 2009

This is why somebody in congress needs to SUBMIT A BILL right now to overturn this.


November 2nd, 2009

Meanwhile the legalization of pot gets more fierce advocacy from the executive branch..

Priya Lynn

November 2nd, 2009

I never heard that Burr. If that’s true its about time. No way can society justify making alcohol and cigarettes legal and pot illegal.


November 2nd, 2009

Well they’ve basically decided not to enforce federal law against medicinal use.

And yeah I don’t have a problem with that, but it only proves that the administration is not mortally bound to uphold laws it doesn’t agree with.

Priya Lynn

November 2nd, 2009

I see.


November 2nd, 2009

The feds limited states freedoms when they implemented the no-discrimination to blacks. They have the right to do anything they wish to if you take that as a valid precursor.


November 2nd, 2009

that only goes in one direction Joel. The feds didn’t “limit” anything, they required that *all* citizens have a certain minimum level of rights that a state couldn’t go below. This is the opposite. The fed is refusing to recognize the rights granted by the states.


November 3rd, 2009

The Respect for Marriage Act would overturn DOMA.

paul j stein

November 3rd, 2009

As far as legal acceptance of medical pot… I think the DRUG companies would surely be in bed with the TOBACCO companies. As a former resident of North Carolina that will be the natural course of things and is most likely in the works off the record as we speak. I was in trial groups for DRONABONAL in 1993 while getting treatment at UNC. With tobacco revenue drying up it is a “no brainer”. Too many lobbiest$$$$$$ to be had on that issue and TAX REVENUE!


November 3rd, 2009

A compromise would repeal DOMA but still allow states to determine whether or not they will recognize out of state marriages. The Feds should be required to recognize all valid marriages, however.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.