Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Democrats Introduce Respect for Marriage Act

A group of House Democrats have introduced the Respect for Marriage Act.

The purpose of the bill, which can be read here, is "to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State regulation of marriage." DOMA, if you remember, prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even those that have a state's legal sanction, for any purpose.

If passed, the Respect for Marriage Act would allow the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages that are legal in the state where entered into it. That is, the federal government would be required to distribute social security benefits to surviving members of same-sex marriages, to allow same-sex couples to file their federal taxes jointly, to allow US citizens to help non-citizen same-sex partners obtain citizenship, and to provide a host of other tangible benefits, privileges, and rights that same-sex couples are currently denied because of DOMA.

In short, it would rectify a host of injustices that DOMA currently perpetrates upon legally married same-sex couples. Personally, I have always thought that same-sex couples should be given a federal tax credit since we contribute to benefits that we are not legally allowed to avail ourselves of. If this bill fails, maybe Tammy Baldwin should introduce a Tax Fairness For Same-Sex Couples Act.

Anyway, I have several predictions:

1) Republicans, and even some Democrats, will attempt to dismiss this bill, not on its merits, but because the nation has More Important Things to worry about. One can always find More Important Things to worry about when one's own rights are not affected.

2) The anti-gay industry will ratchet up its fear-mongering machine about churches being "forced" to marry two dudes, Gathering Storms of Homo Acceptance, and Poor Carrie Prejean. Not able to complain about Judicial Tyranny (tm) in this case, they will invoke the spectre of Legislative Tyranny, continuing to misunderstand the nature of this thing that is called the American Democratic Process.

They will renew a push for a federal marriage amendment that would amend the US Constitution to include a special amendment banning same-sex marriage. While claiming to not hate gay people and be supportive of "some rights," they will offer no alternatives to ensure that same-sex couples receive the benefits that LGBT people pay for heterosexuals to have. Just cuz that's how they roll.

3) As for it passing, who knows? I know that's not really a prediction, but unlike those who so boldly claim that same-sex marriage will destroy life and probably the entire universe and then make the baby Jesus cry, I don't have a crystal ball that enables me to foresee such things. (My ESP only allows me to predict the behavior of "marriage defenders." They are quite a predictable bunch).

I suppose we can always hope that NOM and company will hypberbolize themselves right out of relevancy. Yet, if the Teabagger Movement is any indication of the socially conservative zeitgeist, many Americans are incredibly resentful right now, very touchy about losing "their" country, and are ready to direct their rage, through Glenn Beck's spittle and tears, wherever their dear leaders point them. We live in a nation where people warn us not to "steal from Medicare to support socialized medicine." Ricockulous numbers of people still believe that President Obama is a secret Muslim who wasn't born in the US. People regularly call him a racist, socialist, communist, fascist, Hitler-person.

If people believe those things, they're pretty likely to also believe that the repeal of DOMA will lead to VeRy ScArY shit.

Anti-gay organizations know how to play into that fear and paranoia. It's sort of what they do best. And, coupled with their tendency to also be truth-aversive, they do it very well. Such is life in a democracy.

Expect the best. Counter them whenever and wherever you can. Contact Congress to let them know where you stand. But prepare for the worst, and bear down for the next contest.

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