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Reactions pouring in to gay marriage decision
EmailE-mail|Link|Comments (46) July 8, 2010 07:14 PM
A variety of advocacy organizations and political leaders are issuing statements about today's rulings by a federal district court judge in Boston striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. Here are some of the statements:
Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute:
In another blatant example of a judge playing legislator, a Boston-based federal judge has struck down the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996.
Same-sex marriage activists have tried time and time again to win public approval of their agenda, and they have failed each time. This is why their strategy is to force same-sex ‘marriage’ through judicial fiat, as they did here in Massachusetts and other states.
Americans overwhelmingly believe marriage to be the union of one man and one woman. Just two days ago the Governor of Hawaii vetoed a bill that would have redefined marriage through civil unions, upholding the will of the people of her state. Forty-five states have laws supporting traditional marriage, with thirty of thirty having affirmed traditional marriage in their state constitutions.
DOMA has withstood prior challenges, and I am confident that an appeals court, and ultimately the Supreme Court, will uphold the government’s right to define marriage, strengthening and protecting children and families.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley:
Today’s landmark decision is an important step toward achieving equality for all married couples in Massachusetts and assuring that all of our citizens enjoy the same rights and protections under our Constitution. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to discriminate, as it does because of DOMA’s restrictive definition of marriage. It is also unconstitutional for the federal government to decide who is married and to create a system of first- and second-class marriages. The federal government cannot require states, such as Massachusetts, to further the discrimination through federal programs. We are extremely pleased with Judge Tauro’s decision and we also want to congratulate GLAD for their well-earned victory on behalf of equality.
Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts:
This ruling is a victory for equal rights and affirms the hard work we have done over the years to ensure that the citizens of our Commonwealth can marry anyone they love. I applaud the Attorney General and the members of the public who challenged the constitutionality of DOMA. They clearly made a compelling and effective case against discrimination and, in the process, helped to guarantee that all of our citizens have access to the same protections and benefits.
Paula Herrington, interim executive director of MassEquality
This is a tremendous victory. Married couples in Massachusetts are treated differently based on their sexual orientation. One set of them have access to the 1,000-plus benefits of marriage offered by the federal government, and the other set, those who happen to be married to someone of the same sex, do not. That’s unfair and it’s a classic example of unequal treatment under the law. We are pleased with Judge Tauro’s decision in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and hope that the ruling paves the way to a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
At the same time, we note the irony of the timing of Judge Tauro’s decision. Earlier this week, on Monday, Hawaii Governor Laura Lingle vetoed a civil unions bill passed by the Hawaii legislature that would have given same-sex couples in Hawaii access to the state benefits of marriage. Of course, it was the marriage movement in Hawaii in the mid-1990s that spurred Congress to pass the Defense of Marriage Act in the first place.
It will take time, but we will see full marriage equality for LGBT people in every state in this country, and under federal law. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, the arc of the moral universe is long, but Judge Tauro’s decision today helped bend it toward justice.
Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry:
Today's historic ruling strikes down federal marriage discrimination enacted under the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" in 1996. DOMA created two classes of marriage - those the federal government respects and some it doesn't - denying married same sex couples and their families equal treatment and depriving them of the crucial safety-net that marriage brings. In Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, eight married same-sex couples and three widowers, represented by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, demonstrated that federal marriage discrimination harms gay and lesbian couples who are trying to make ends meet and protect their families.
Today's ruling affirms what we have long known: federal discrimination enacted under DOMA is unconstitutional. The decision will be appealed and litigation will continue. But what we witnessed in the courtroom cannot be erased: federal marriage discrimination harms committed same-sex couples and their families for no good reason. Today's ruling provides increased momentum to the national movement to end exclusion from marriage and Freedom to Marry's Roadmap to secure the freedom to marry nationwide. The crucial work of changing hearts and minds and winning the freedom to marry in more states is more urgent than ever as we build on today's momentum and encourage other decision-makers to do the right thing and end exclusion from marriage.
Michael B. Keegan, president of People For the American Way:
The court did the right thing today—the right thing under the Constitution, and the right thing for the citizens of Massachusetts. For too many years, thousands of legally married couples in states across the country have seen the federal government turn its back on their unions. The Constitution doesn’t allow the federal government to give rights to some married couples and deny them to others. Today’s decision was vindication of that principle.
Americans don’t want to hurt their gay and lesbian friends and neighbors, but DOMA does just that—it causes real harm to people across the nation. Although this case has the potential to be contested for years, I hope that Congress will take this opportunity to do the right thing and repeal DOMA, so that all married couples, like those in Massachusetts, can enjoy the full rights and responsibilities of marriage.
Judge declares US gay-marriage ban is unconstitutional