Same-sex marriage is now legal in New York after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that was narrowly passed by state lawmakers, June 24 - making New York the third state to pass gay marriage through a legislative act and without court action or a vote by the people. New York is the sixth state to legalize gay marriage, after Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont. The District of Columbia also allows same-sex marriages.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage for purposes of federal law as the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, was passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. Also under the law, no state (or other political subdivision within the United States) may be required to recognize as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state.
During his presidential campaign in 2008, Barack Obama stated that he was opposed to same-sex marriage - even though he ran as an ardent supporter of the homosexual community. "I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman," Obama said. "For me, as a Christian, it is also a sacred union."
But, in 2011, President Barack Obama said that he felt the administration could no longer defend the law because it violates the constitutional rights of homosexuals. The U.S. Justice Department announced Feb. 23, 2011, that it will not continue to support the DOMA that specifically defined marriage on a federal level as the union between one man and one woman.
Although Obama stated that traditionally marriage has been decided by the states and is an issue best addressed by the states, he also has stated that he firmly believes that committed gay and lesbian couples should receive equal protection under the law. President Obama sees himself as the leader who can make "big historical changes." Well, this one is big, indeed.
After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization. Whether the federal government or states should ultimately define marriage is a hot topic now. Arizona and Utah and 27 other states have passed their own constitutional "marriage amendments" (stating that marriage is between one man and one woman) and they should not be forced to accept any amendment that they disagree with.
New York's Catholic bishops issued a statement that they are "deeply disappointed and troubled" by the same-sex marriage bill they say undermines the family as a cornerstone of civilization.
"We strongly uphold the Catholic Church's clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves. This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths."
Massachusetts has waged a legal battle against the federal law that defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The government's only basis for supporting DOMA comes down to an apparent belief that the moral views of the majority may properly be enacted as the law of the land. That's why DOMA must go to the U.S. Supreme Court and ultimately be decided.
Jack & Nineva Salley, Mesa