The Engage Family Blog

Official Blog of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Progressives in Congress Prepare to Undefend Marriage

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From Politico’s Glenn Thrush comes this frightful headline, “House libs to introduce Marriage Act repeal.”  Thrush reports:

House progressives are preparing a legislative assault on the 13-year-old Defense of Marriage Act, even with the White House sending mixed signals on the issue.

I’m told that liberals, led by Jerry Nadler, who represents Manhattan’s West side and chairs the Judiciary Committee’s Constitution subcommittee, are working on a repeal bill that could be at the “Dear Colleague” stage within weeks. It’s likely to garner dozens of co-sponsors.

But it’s not clear if the move, which comes at a time when leadership’s plate in cracking under the weight of other blockbuster issues, has the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has said she supports rolling back the controversial law.

History has overtaken the 1996 law, which prevents federal recognition of gay unions and bars Social Security survivor payments and other government benefits. A half-dozen states have legalized same-sex marriage and advocates have mounted a series of [thus-far unsuccessful] legal challenges to DOMA.

Obama called for repeal during the campaign — but his gay and lesbian backers were bitterly disappointed after DOJ lawyers filed papers defending the statute earlier this year. In an attempt to calm the waters, the White House issued a memo extending some benefits to federal employees with same-sex partners.

If nothing else, DOMA repeal bill will put Obama on the spot.

What this article does not explain, is the threat this potential action poses to marriages in West Virginia.

Should this measure be foisted upon the American people, not only would the Federal DOMA – signed into law by former President Clinton – be repealed, but it would further erode the West Virginia Defense of Marriage Act.  While there are significant differences between the Federal and State DOMA – not the least of which is that WV’s never defines what marriage is – by repealing the Federal DOMA and leaving marriage undefined within our State Constitution, West Virginians increase the risk of having a court redefine marriage.  And not just a judge from West Virginia (although that is quite possible).  The reality is that a Federal or state judge sitting outside the State of WV could easily redefine what  marriage means to West Virginians.

Why?  Because the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution requires that, in the absence of laws contradicting one another, states give equal treatment (or “full faith and credit”) to the laws of another state.  Here’s a very oversimplified explanation: if a West Virginia same-sex couple flew to Iowa and obtained a marriage license, a judge could rule that because West Virginia has no legally binding definition of marriage, West Virginia must give “full faith and credit” to the Iowa marriage license.  That would not be the same if the same-sex couple were from, say, Arizona, since citizens of Arizona were afforded the opportunity to amend their state constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman.

For more of what you can do to support marriage as one man and one woman in West Virginia, go to www.wv4marriage.com.

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Written by Jeremy Dys

September 4, 2009 at 1:37 pm

One Response

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