The case against the Defense of Marriage Act is widening as more lawmakers step forward to condemn the law. The latest last week included governors and mayors, largely from states where marriage equality is recognized.
They sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of a vote on whether to repeal DOMA. The repeal advanced to the Senate on a party-line vote.
The argument against DOMA is still solidifying. For example, companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Starbucks filed a brief in a the case challenging the constitutionality of DOMA and argued that the law is just another form of government regulation that puts a burden on business, leading to wasted resources and money.
The governors and mayors made a similar case, claiming government overreach as they trumpeted states' rights. In the broad understanding of party values, it's the sort of case you'd expect to hear from Republicans, though the list was mostly Democrats.
Here are the top five reasons they say DOMA should be repealed:
- DOMA disrespects states' rights, they argue. Although the policy was born from a concern by conservative states that they might be forced to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, these lawmakers say DOMA has actually trampled states' rights. "By denying federal recognition for some of our states' lawful marriages, DOMA does not just deny married same-sex couples these and other critical rights and benefits," they wrote. "It disrespects our states' decisions to treat all of our citizens equally."
- But they aren't minimizing the importance of gaining equal rights. The federal government is interfering in the lives of state citizens, they say. Same-sex married couples are "constantly hamstrung" by the more than 1,100 rights they cite being withheld by the federal government. "While we are proud that our states have eased the burdens on families, these provisions of federal law are beyond our purview and Congressional action is required," they demanded.
- Similar to the argument made by U.S. companies opposed to DOMA, the lawmakers say it forces them to discriminate. They say DOMA "even requires our states' governments, when we jointly administer federal programs like Medicaid, to actively discriminate against our own lawfully-married citizens." The companies complained of having to identify those legally married couples that are gay among their workforce so they can be denied benefits.
- DOMA is dangerous, the lawmakers argue, referencing the epidemic of LGBT suicides among youth who are struggling to be out in a world that does not seem to accept them. "For LGBT youth, DOMA sends a dangerous message that that they cannot be full and equal citizens of their country," they warn.
- DOMA affects straight people too. Starting with the children of same-sex couples "who suffer from the financial instability DOMA creates for their parents," the law also impacts straight families and friends "who must step in with financial and emotional support to mitigate these problems."
California governor Jerry Brown sent his own letter because his state is in the predicament of having legal same-sex marriage taken away at the ballot box -- a change that is being challenged in the court system. For a complete list of lawmakers who sent letters calling for the repeal of DOMA, see the next page.