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Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional
Old 07-09-2010, 08:52 AM   #1
Professor S
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Default Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

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(CNN) -- A federal judge in Boston, Massachusetts, has ruled that the federal ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, because it interferes with an individual state's right to define marriage.

The ruling gives same-sex married couples in Massachusetts the same right to federal benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled that "as irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest," the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the protection under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
Oh boy, this is not good. It looks good on the surface, as I am pro gay marriage, but this could start a very bad chain of events... a chain of events I have been dreading ever since I heard this case was going to the court system.

This case WILL go to the Supreme Court, mark my words, and there is a very good chance the Supreme Court will find that gay marriage bans are unconstitutional. That does not make gay marriage legal, but finds that specifically banning gay marriage is not legal (if that makes sense and I hope I am presenting this correctly... I'm sure Xantar can clarify if I am not).

All of this sounds great, but the problem is that marriage traditionalists make up the VAST majority of this country. Even in California, beacon of liberalism, voted 80-20 against gay marriage. There might be enough backing to support a marriage amendment to the Constitution, and that would be an awful thing to happen. Also, the debate will be an utter distraction in a time when we have pressing issues that need to be at the forefront.

The last time such divisive social/cultural issues were legislated from the judge's bench, we ended up with Roe vs. Wade, and has that settled anything? No, its 40 years later and the abortion issue is still as divisive as ever. That is what happens when choices are taken from people, and given to a select few judges. This just delays cultural evolution, IMO.

SOURCE: http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/07/08/mas...ex.html?hpt=T2
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Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional
Old 07-09-2010, 10:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

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The last time such divisive social/cultural issues were legislated from the judge's bench, we ended up with Roe vs. Wade, and has that settled anything? No, its 40 years later and the abortion issue is still as divisive as ever. That is what happens when choices are taken from people, and given to a select few judges. This just delays cultural evolution, IMO.
Just out of curiosity, what did you make of Brown v. Board of Education?

Anyway, the procedural issue with this case is that it was decided by a judge in the District Court for Massachusetts. In the federal (as opposed to state) court system, there are 89 District Courts which make up the lowest level. Then there are 13 (depending how you count) Circuit Courts or Appeals Courts which each preside over several of the District Courts. And then over the Circuit Courts are the Supreme Court.

My understanding is that the a ruling by a District Court does not create a binding precedent. Other District Courts can look to this ruling and use it as a suggestion, but they are not bound to rule the same way. If the case is appealed to the Circuit Court and the Circuit Court affirms the ruling of the District Court, then the ruling becomes binding upon all the District Courts in the 1st Circuit (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island). Then if the ruling is appealed again to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court affirms or declines to hear the case, the ruling becomes the law of the land.

Here's the problem though: the only people who can appeal this case are the two parties, namely the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Federal Government (i.e. Obama's Justice Department). There's every reason to believe that this ruling is exactly what both Massachusetts and Obama want. So the only reason they would appeal it is to try to get the ruling made into a binding precedent on everyone. I'm not sure they want to take that risk.

Then again, the flipside of this is that if the case plays all the way out and the Supreme Court ends up striking down DOMA, then gay couples in states where marriage is legal will get federal marriage benefits. Maybe Massachusetts or Obama will think that's worth fighting for. But like you, I think they might both decide they don't want to be distracted right now.
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Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional
Old 07-09-2010, 11:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

Thanks for the clarification, Xantar. It makes me feel a little better about the potential for escalation.

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Originally Posted by Xantar View Post
Just out of curiosity, what did you make of Brown v. Board of Education?
That is my major conflict when it comes to my opinion on social issues decided by the courts. The right decision was made, and it had great results. It makes me hopeful that if gay marriage is legalized in a court system that it would stick and help develop tolerance, but in today's climate I'm not so sure an amendment wouldn't be ratified. In Brown, the issue at hand was localized that there was no way that an amendment could get 3/4 the states to ratify it. I'm not sure that is the case with gay marriage.

Brown and Roe are the two diverging examples of how social justice decisions are met by the populace. One helped evolve the discussion, the other stagnated it, and I'm not sure I can identify what made one more successful than the other.

EDIT: By George I think I've got it! The reason why Roe v Wade remains so controversial is because the heart of the case is that one body is sharing the rights of two individuals, and only one set of rights can truly be respected in their entirety. Brown v Board was about separate individuals denying rights to others, without the corporeal complications of Roe v Wade, making the moral implications far less murky.

By that rationale, having a court system grant the rights of gay marriage should follow the line of Brown, and not Roe v Wade. Still, I think at this point it might be a mistake because there still might be enough support for a marriage amendment to counter a high court ruling.
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Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional
Old 07-09-2010, 04:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

I really hope your country gets it's shit together in this aspect.
I also really hope people in your country realize that gay people are people, and deserve the same rights.

But gays are the new black people. For you guys, anyways.
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Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional
Old 07-10-2010, 01:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

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But gays are the new black people. For you guys, anyways.
I hate when people say that.
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Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional
Old 07-10-2010, 01:52 PM   #6
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Default Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

yeah kinda makes it sound as if black people aren't still being oppressed by our country.
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Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional
Old 07-10-2010, 03:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Judge rules federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

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I hate when people say that.
I was using it in jest.
As anyone would with a "___ is the new black" type of statement.
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