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The Defense of Marriage Trap

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice department would no longer argue in favor of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.

Of course, conservatives attacked immediately. Newt Gingrich claimed that Obama had “directly violated his constitutional duties by arbitrarily suspending a law” and that “clearly it is not something that can be allowed to stand.” He also said that if a “President Sarah Palin” had taken a similar action, there would have been immediate calls for her impeachment.

Really? How about in 1982, when Reagan refused to argue in court against Bob Jones University, which was practicing racial segregation for religious reasons? Not only that, but both Bush presidents did the same thing. Did anyone call for their impeachment because of that? Did Gingrich call for their impeachment, as he appears to be doing now for Obama?

But what is really ironic about this whole thing is that it puts the Republicans in a very interesting situation. If they don’t try to defend DOMA, they risk angering their base. But if they do try to defend it, it puts them into the position of defending their own hypocrisy. After all, how hilarious is it for Newt Gingrich to pretend to defend marriage, when it is a matter of public record that he is a serial adulterer who has never taken his own marriage vows seriously? In fact, back when Gingrich was pushing the passage of DOMA in Congress, he was having an affair.

Practically every major politician involved in DOMA has since been revealed to be an adulterer. This includes the author of DOMA, Bob Barr (R-GA). Also Henry Hyde (R-IL), who pushed it through the House Judiciary Committee, and Bob Dole, then the Senate Majority Leader. In the name of bipartisan hypocrisy, I will also point out that DOMA was signed into law by President Clinton, while he was having an affair with Monica Lewinski.

I’ve often been confused by how upset religious conservatives get about gays and gay marriage. Why aren’t they equally upset about adultery? I don’t think it can be on religious grounds — after all, adultery is mentioned frequently in the Bible as a major sin. Even the Ten Freaking Commandments says “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. Homosexuality is barely mentioned in the Bible, and even when it is mentioned it is lumped in with prohibitions against such terrible things as incense, horoscopes, psychics, eating shellfish, and cheating at business (yow!).

The day I see fundamentalist Christians protesting against corrupt banks (or restaurants serving shrimp and lobster) with the same vehemence they reserve for gays is the day I’ll take their arguments seriously.



  1. Sammy wrote:

    I have lost the link, but last week I found a list of states’ divorce rates and what I found was very interesting. Five states and DC allow gay marriage. Four of them are among the lowest 11 in terms of divorce rates in the country, with DC leading the nation in stable marriages. The most vociferous, Bible belt, anti-gay marriage states, particularly Arkansas, Alabama, W. Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi? ALL are top ten in divorce.

    As for Newt, I pray he runs for president. How will conservatives explain supporting him while also being “pro family, pro marriage, pro family values” whatever the eff those terms mean?

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink
  2. Dan wrote:

    Hmmm, Iran Contra? Signing statements (especially the one that claimed the anti-torture law as an infringement on executive power).
    Funny how Christians can eat pork… Jesus also said “… some are born eunuchs” Picking and choosing scripture that defends a position has always annoyed me, like the “avenging sword” to justify “killing for Christ.” Whatever happened to “thou shall not judge,” “thou shall not kill,” “love thy enemy..” and “turn the other cheek.”
    The ONLY reason these issues are kept alive is for political gain. Wasn’t that long ago when Republicans controlled all three branches of government, and what got done??? “Kill the Beast.”

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink
  3. Patricia Andrews wrote:

    It is a short trip to crazy when you start looking at real Christian principles (those that are generally recognized as “canonical” across denominations) and compare them with the actions and beliefs of the religious right and their conservative manipulators. Thanks for pointing it out so humorously!

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink
  4. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I knew this post would come sooner or later and I could have predicted which side of the argument would be supported.
    So let me start off by saying I agree, DOMA should be taken off the books at least the definition of marriage part. Now that that is out of the way, lets discuss legality and a what if. I also realize the same tactic has been used by other executives in the past.
    First, a contrary example. Suppose the next president, a republican, said I’m not going to defend Roe vs Wade, because (I) think it’s unconstitutional. Holy cow the mess that would cause. Or they said I’m not going to enforce collective bargaining rights because I say it’s unconstitutional (getting a little more real).

    We know exactly what the reaction would be, yes.

    I’m sorry, but the executive branch whether republican or democrat has no business declaring any law unconstitutional. That authority is not granted to the President. Otherwise he could deem the constituion as unconstitutional and hire Gaddafy and Castro to run the country. Agreed?
    So why would we defend the current president when we complain that past presidents have done the same. It’s a slippery slope and it is hypocritical.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink
  5. Jason Ray wrote:

    Patriotsgt – just to be clear, they didn’t say “We think it’s uncontitutional so we aren’t going to defend it.”

    They said “We have already lost several cases and the courts have RULED it is unconstitutional, and therefore we are not going to spend more taxpayer money fighting a losing battle while we wait for appeals to reach the Supreme Court and get a final decision on whether it IS unconstitutional.”

    That’s a horse of a different color. I agree with you, if any administraiton chose not to enforce a law because they didn’t agree with it, it would be very bad. Please understand though that this specific issue is not one of those.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink
  6. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Thanks for the clarification of the issue Jason Ray, it didn’t seem to be mentioned in the post and i was arguing against te rationale used to defend the administration.

    On a sidebar, how did the meeting in DC go? I think that group has potential and carries the sentiment of most Americans.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink
  7. PatriotSGT wrote:

    As a sidbar, my state is considering legislation to allow gay marriage. The legislation has passed the house and in the senate. It will probably pass making us the 6th state to allow same sex civil unions. Now maybe the Head of School where my sons attend can finally tie the knot and enjoy the benefits of civil union. They are doing it thoughtfully and have added amendments that release from descrimination liablility religious institutions who do not want to perform or entertain same sex marriages. That ladies and gentlemen is bipartisan work on tough legislation.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Permalink
  8. Jason Ray wrote:

    @Patriotsgt – below is a copy of a post I made on another topic about the No Labels meeting – bottom line was it was good 🙂

    Just finished the No Labels national session and I have to say it’s looking positive. There is a very clear and strong focus on building a movement aimed at changing the way politics currently operates (I can’t bring my self to say “works”) by changing behaviour, while NOT taking specific positions on issues.

    All in all the organization has a lot of smart, committed people from all wings of the political spectrum that want to see fact based, bi partisan discussions leading to real solutions – a real solution being defined as something that can get a majority in the House, 60 votes in the Senate, the President’s signature, and can be implemented in reality.

    I am quite hopeful that this is a positive movement and that it isn’t going to be hijacked by any special interests for the forseeable future. And it’s real – 70,000 members and climbing – so it’s worth a second look.

    Regardless of anyone’s specific position on any issue, the majority of Americans (78%) think the current process is broken and the vast majority (94%) think that partisan politics needs “some” or “major” reform. I say it’s easier to steer a car that’s moving, and any group that is trying to provide a counterweight to MoveOn and the Tea Party Nation by rewarding fact-based discussions leading to real solutions deserves my support

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 6:57 am | Permalink
  9. Spike wrote:

    Just a couple of thoughts on this partisan issue that seems to be at the fore of U.S. political thought at the moment.
    I think you need a Federal Election Commision of some sort that controls all Federal and State elections. Yeah I know there will be bleating and whinging about more government control and costs and blah blah. I think that the confidence would return to voters. They would know that they vote the same way as any person in the country. One vote, One Value, Anywhere. It would be far easier and cheaper to run elections and would remove a lot of the partisan crap. The Commision could set boundarys to a given set of rules and you could effecively remove the gerrymander. If properly constituted it could also open up elections to more independant candidates although I think it takes a while for the electorate to actually vote one in.
    I am like the democracy I live in. Sure it has it hiccups and issues. But when I go to vote I use a pencil on a piece of paper and put that vote in a cardboard box. Everybody in Australia does. I dont think that is a viable situation for all countries but I would like to think that America could bring itself to something close to that.
    On my other thought, I will pre-emptively flog myself for suggesting compulsory voting.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink
  10. Drew wrote:

    There is a big difference between what the Obama administration is doing and the previous presidents mentioned in this post. The Obama administration has said that they will continue enforcing the law until it is ruled unconstitutional, but they will no longer be filing court briefs in defense of it. They are not arbitrarily suspending a law, they are leaving that decision to the courts. What they are saying in effect is that they agree with the court decisions that have already been made and don’t see the point in contesting them.

    That said, besides Gingrich’s blatant lie, this has been a huge load of hypocrisy from the Republican leadership on a couple of fronts. A spokesman for John Boehner said, “While Americans want Washington to focus on creating jobs and cutting spending, the president will have to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation.” As opposed to stirring up controversial issues like repealing health care or funding for Planned Parenthood? Not to mention that taking time to argue against a court decision that they agree with would just take more of their focus away from the economy.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink