DOMA and the GOP

Today the Republican party finds themselves in a difficult circumstance. The GOP has left themselves in a position where they can either try to defend the indefensible, or dissent from party-line bigotry. It is an unenviable choice, but nevertheless, it is what the evangelical influence on the party has left them.

The “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) more accurately should have been titled the “Attack on same-sex Marriage Act” since it wasn’t actually defending any heterosexuals rights, or who and how they can marry. It was designed specifically to deny gay Americans the same rights and privileges that heterosexuals have. But more specifically, Section 3 of DOMA codified the non-recognition of same sex marriages for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns. It was written into legislation that same sex couples had different rules applied to them. In case anyone is wondering what applying a different set of standards to selected segments of society is more commonly referred to, it’s called discrimination.

Hence, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Section 3 of DOMA.

Since then, the evangelical wing of the GOP has come out in force to denounce the SCOTUS decision, allowing for no pretence of Church/State separation while renouncing marriage equality as defying the will of the Judeo/Christian God. Sadly predictable, the evangelical right is forcing the party’s discourse towards rationalizing medieval predispositions, and reciting bigoted platitudes. Congresswoman Michele Bachman, and former Governor of Arkansas and now FOX News pundit Mike Huckabee to name just two were both defiant, and adamant about their disapproval of marriage equality… the former erroneously asserting that “Marriage was created by the hand of God”, while the latter offered the supposition that “Jesus wept.” Ugh.

This is the sociological quandary that the GOP finds themselves in. Do they capitulate to the evangelical base and their less-than-rational assertions, or acknowledge that every American citizen is entitled to equal rights under the constitution? Is it possible for some within the GOP to articulate that denying equal rights is not a right unto itself? Do they allow the bigoted predispositions of their lunatic fringe to dictate policy to the party’s detriment? Or does this become a wedge issue within the Republican party?

Ironically, before it became law in 1996, DOMA was a bi-partisan bill engineered by House Republicans led by then speaker (R) Newt Gingrich, and signed into legislation by none other than (D) President Bill Clinton. Hilariously, the thrice married Gingrich and the convicted marital vow breaker Clinton were the key figures in protecting the cherished institution of matrimony…

An institution, which by all statistical accounts has long ago had its reverence forsaken by heterosexuals like Clinton and Gingrich.

The truth is that despite the rhetoric about the sanctity of marriage needing to be persevered, traditional marriage was always based upon patriarchy . Of course, by “traditional”, the evangelical right means that in biblical terms, a wife is to be obedient to her husband. In a “traditional” marriage, women have a subservient role to play as defined by the scriptures, which is what’s implicated when the Christian right harkens back to “better days”. Cooking, cleaning, and baby making … ” Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church” – Ephesians 5:22

The reality is that the Christian right’s assault on same sex marriage has a collaterally negative effect on women as well.

But the hypocrisy from “Traditional Marriage Purists” runs deeper than their bias against women and gays. The denial of how traditional marriage has failed in the post “women should be barefoot and pregnant” world is matched only by the ignorance it takes to defend an institution that boasts a dismal 50% divorce rate as something “wholesome.” An even more alarming fact is that like Gingrich’s and Clinton’s poor excuses for traditional marriages, many hetero-couplings that survive a litigious end are wrought with extra-marital indiscretions. For a more detailed analysis of how and why traditional marriage is obsolescent and an exposition of secular relationship viability, see my book

However since the signing of DOMA into legislation, the Democratic Party has wisely modified its position on same sex unions to coincide with the Zeitgeist , which is what a Govt. by the people and for the people is supposed to do. While their motives may be politically feckless, Democrats have nevertheless acquiesced to reason regarding the lack of constitutionality regarding marital discrimination. Likewise, today Republican voters are faced with a choice. To side with bigots and homophobes, or to defy their party.

As for the acerbic rhetoric that the evangelical right uses to mask their bigotry, none of the anti-equality assertions appeal to anyone with the slightest sense of logic . Each rationalization for wanting to deny same sex couples equal rights under the law is as unconstitutionally lame as the next. For instance, the “change the definition of marriage” argument is utterly inane, as the simple fact that a woman would not be required to marry her rapist, or that a man cannot sell his daughter for a milk cow means that we’ve already changed the “definition” of marriage, and for the better. Just as we have “changed the definition” of “freedom” as it applies to person ownership.

Neither does the “morality” argument make sense to anyone who has the slightest grasp of what actually constitutes morals. By attaching a “moral” implication to the manner in which consenting adults fornicate, let alone who they love, it not only masks one’s bigotry by bastardizing what morals actually are, but changes the premise of the discussion from one that is based on civil rights as it applies to the Constitution, to one that must tether to ethereal, third party oversight. Indeed, if one’s “morals” are dependent upon an intrusion into people’s bedrooms in order to establish that procreation be in accordance with the Judeo/Christian God’s carnal idealism, then their morals are at best questionable.

Yet bigots rarely recognize themselves as such, and thus these rationalizations make sense to them. By comparing consensual adults engaging in same sex marriage to pedophilia and bestiality, religious bigots expose themselves as such. But they don’t see it that way. For if one has to be explained why those comparisons are not only invalid, but hateful, then they are beyond reason. Yet these are the types of arguments continually made by members of the Republican Party.

Sadly these were the same retrospectively ignorant arguments made against interracial marriage in 1967. When the Supreme Court ended all race based marital restrictions in the now famous Loving V. the State of Virginia case where Richard Loving, a white man was sentenced to a year in prison for marrying Mildred Loving, a black woman. These same arguments were made by those who hoped to deny interracial marriage. Today we mock those ignorant, racist assertions, just as we will those making the case against same sex marriage years from now.

Still, the GOP is defending the Defense of Marriage Act the way that racists in 1967 defended the Racial Integrity Act. Both sets of arguments against equality operate from the premise that who and how we love is not germane to the precepts of liberty, and moreover, are subject to Christian doctrine. Thankfully, the Supreme Court disagreed on both accounts. Regardless of whatever excuse one uses for wanting to deny certain Americans equal marital rights and privileges due to their sexual orientation, the American consensus no longer allows for such rationalizations constituting a “different opinion”. In 2013, it is generally understood that making such assertions defines one as a bigoted asshole.

But despite everything leading up to, and including the striking down of Section 3 of DOMA, there is a much more important issue, and one that should never have allowed it to get this far.

If we –as a nation– are to operate from the premise that All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, then the self evident truth is that the state can neither determine, nor define any definition of love. The striking down of Section 3 of DOMA is important because how we treat one another is what defines us as a nation. It’s what separates us from the backwards, twelfth century xenophobes we’re at war with. Just as America improved itself when we abolished slavery, gave women the vote, and allowed Richard and Mildred Loving to marry, so we did on June 26th, 2013 when the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA.

However it is inherent within the nature of humanity to forget the travails from eras past –those who suffered, sacrificed and even died so that their children’s children might lead a better life– and give back to their former oppressors that which they fought so hard to gain. Today is not the end of the struggle for Gay rights just as Loving V. Virginia did not mark the end of the struggle to achieve racial parity. This is still the beginning.

The endeavor for equality is enduring. Bigotry and ignorance are vigilant to their tasks, and we must remain ever steadfast to keep the darker parts of human nature from seeking their expression. However it is a battle worth fighting. For if history can teach us anything, it’s that equality is the hallmark of civilization.

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About Rich Woods

Rich Woods is the author of the critically acclaimed books, UnLearn Vanilla Marriage, and Yahweh to Hell. He is also a columnist, sociologist, and satirist who has performed seminars around the country. He's also made several TV and radio appearances. Transitioning from a blue-collar background has given Mr. Woods a unique perspective --and an even more unique elocution--among his peers. Raised Catholic, Mr. Woods is now a very public atheist who champions the separation of church and state. He's an advocate for non-traditional relationships, including --but not limited to-- negotiating non-monogamy, as well as being a vocal opponent of political correctness. Throughout his career, Woods has had colorful metaphors hurled in his direction from both liberals, and conservatives. To be honest, most of the vitriol comes from the Tea Party. However, he considers one of his greatest accomplishments having been called "Harry Reid's Lapdog" , and referred to as being "just like Rush Limbaugh" from two different sources within minutes of one another. Originally from Queens, New York, and presently residing in central New Jersey, Rich Woods is madly, and hopelessly in love with his wife Jane since before they were wed in 2002, and is the proud father of two successful, brilliantly creative, young adult children. Try as he might, he can't juggle.

Posted on June 28, 2013, in Constitution, Recent Posts, Relationships/Sexuality, Religion, Socio/Political and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I am very much enjoying watching the fundies heads explode.

  2. Well the GOP I think pretty much ignors the ‘ All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,’ as that is part of the Declaration of Independence and not part of the Constitution, which some of them claim is devinely inspired.

    It would also further damage thier fragile little minds that most of the Founding Fathers were Freemasons, but that is a discussion for a different time.

    Even though it is a great thing that section 3 of DOMA was struck down (took long enough) it will still take a while for Gays and Lesbians to get equal treatment as most of the States already enacted laws banning same sex marraige. Given time more and more states will reverse course and allow same sex marraige, how much time I cannot say, Mississippi only JUST Ratified the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery this year.

  3. Fine choice of words for a worthy argument. Well said Pal.

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