Q Syndicate÷Oct 24, 2012
The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals ruled last week that the federal "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) is unconstitutional.
[Judge Dennis Jacobs] said the law was written so broadly that it touches more than a thousand federal laws. "Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public," Jacobs wrote.That DOMA was headed for the Supreme Court was a virtual certainty, so the question is how the ruling will affect ballot initiatives in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington state on November 6. The legislatures of Maine, Maryland and Washington have voted for, and their governors have signed into law, marriage equality. Opposite-sex marriage exclusivity, on the other hand, is the law in Minnesota, where the Catholic Church is dropping everything else to enshrine it in the state constitution.
He rejected arguments by supporters of the law that it was intended to limit new categories of eligibility for federal funds, promote uniform administration of federal law, protect traditional marriage and encourage responsible procreation.
"Even if preserving tradition were in itself an important goal, DOMA is not a means to achieve it," he said.
The Washington, opponents of marriage equality succeeded in putting Measure 74 on the ballot, possibly confusing voters because passage would actually affirm what the legislature and governor have already done.
In Maine, this marks the first time that gay-rights supporters -- rather than opponents -- have chosen to put same-sex marriage before voters. A gay-marriage law passed by the legislature in 2009 was overturned in a referendum that fall. Marriage equality supporters in the state decided to put a measure in support of marriage equality on the ballot this year, when the presidential election would draw out more voters.
The polls have the Minnesota amendment on the razor's edge, while there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about one of the other three states becoming the first in the nation to support marriage equality by popular referendum.
In Maryland, as in Maine and Washington, the most recent polls show a lead for the supporters of same-sex marriage. But comparable leads in other states -- notably in California in 2008 -- evaporated by Election Day, and Josh Levin, manager of the Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign, expects the final result to be extremely close.With races this close, anything, from a judge's ruling exciting one side, to the Obama and Romney campaigns' decision to focus their efforts elsewhere, could have an effect on the outcome.