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Its time to end discrimination
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Every American should applaud President Obama for signaling his intent to seek the repeal of the grossly unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. The start of another school year is a good time to refresh our memories of what all students should have learned in civics class.
DOMA prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages and permits states to refuse to recognize such unions formed in other states. But this clearly violates the U.S. Constitution. The “full faith and credit” clause from Article IV requires states to honor each other’s “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings,” such as marriage licenses. Currently, all states accept heterosexual marriages formed in other states, but many states and the federal government deny recognition of all homosexual marriages, drawing an unacceptable and illegal distinction.
Nor does the Constitution permit states to allow some to marry while prohibiting others, as California voters did with Prop. 8. State laws and even state constitutional amendments forbidding gay couples to marry violate the 14th Amendment, which requires “equal protection of the laws” for all, and the “supremacy” clause in Article VI, which makes the U.S. Constitution our nation’s supreme law.
Many parts of the Constitution are ambiguous and open to wide interpretation, but the full faith and credit clause, the 14th Amendment and the supremacy clause are not among them. Any reasonable reading of these can only support the conclusion that efforts to prevent or destroy marriage equality amount to discrimination that our Constitution does not permit. This should not be construed as a liberal or conservative position, but simply as a matter of constitutional fairness.
Since marriage equality promotes love and dignity among gay and lesbian couples, while harming no one, striking down DOMA, Prop. 8, and marriage bans in other states will do more than improve our democracy. Righting this wrong will also benefit families, promote tolerance and foster human rights. May the president quickly fulfill his pledge, and let all freedom-loving Americans lend their vocal and active support. This discrimination can’t end soon enough.
— Matt Johanson