Thursday, April 17, 2014

Clinton, DOMA and Article IV - WTF?

Am I the only one who understands this, or am I just ill-informed? First off, if you don’t know the difference between an Amendment and an Article in the US Constitution, then this post is not for you. If you would like to know, then I’ll tell you.

An Amendment to the Constitution is something which has been added; or changed from the original Articles; which delineate what the government’s functions are, and how they are to go about their jobs. Amendments are; beginning with the first ten in the Bill of Rights; outline the areas of  our lives in which the government is not allowed to intrude. And sometimes; as with the 27th Amendment; they are merely additions or corrections to existing Articles. 

Secondly; Civil Rights Issues; of which Same Sex Marriage is but one; are not negotiable, and therefore not subject to populist elections. It is essential that you understand these two things. Okay, got that straight? Now, some background.

Bill Clinton is the ex-President who is seen as the godfather to the GLBT movement. I hope I have the initials in the proper order so as not to offend anyone. But Bill Clinton; in addition to giving us the ill-advised “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy; also left us with a lasting legacy; and conundrum; in the form of the Defense of Marriage Act.

DOMA; it’s easier to use the acronym; basically stated that marriage in the United States consists of one man and one woman. That alone is confusing to me in that Bill Clinton is embraced by the GLBT community as a champion of their quest for equal rights. But what really puzzles me even more is the clause within DOMA which basically guts Article 4; the Full Faith and Credit Clause; which states that “Full faith and Credit shall be given in each state to the Public Acts, records and Judicial proceedings of every other state….” In essence, this clause prevents the individual states from not honoring your driver’s license, automobile registration, marriage license etc. when traveling through their districts. This was a good thing.

Can you imagine the confusion resulting in having to pay a fee at each state border as you travel across the country? Or having to get a temporary marriage permit while on vacation? Full Faith and Credit is the antithesis of State’s Rights, which brings me to the crux of this post.

Bill Clinton planted the seeds for all the confusion going on in the courts across the country right now in regards to Same Sex Marriage. That’s right; the godfather of alternative lifestyles is at the root of the problem being faced by GLBT people all across the land as they try to navigate the labyrinth of state laws which permit them to marry in some states, while making those unions illegal in others.

Further complicating the matter is that the Supreme Court struck down only that portion of DOMA which restricted Same Sex Marriage. It did not, however, strike down the clause which allowed the individual states to by-pass Article 4 of the Constitution. This is why you have lawsuit after lawsuit concerning Same Sex Marriage in one state after another. If the  entire DOMA had been struck down this would not be an issue.

President Bush postured to repeal the entire DOMA Act in order to gain conservative votes. Had he known what a roadblock DOMA could be for Same Sex Marriage he would have felt differently. This brings us to President Obama; who has stated in the past that his position on this issue was “evolving.” What is his administration’s position on this issue now?

Well, according to Eric Holder and the Justice Department, the portion of DOMA which remains intact regarding Full Faith and Credit; which would allow a Same Sex Marriage in Vermont to not be honored in Kansas; the government; for now; will not pursue a change. What the hell does that mean?

Full Faith and Credit has served this country well; both socially and commercially; for well over 200 years. The patchwork quilt created by Bill Clinton; and unchanged by his predecessors; is an ill omen of things to come. As a legal precedent it threatens us in more ways than just Same Sex Marriage. With Conservatives calling for a roll back to an era before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 it threatens us in more ways than you can imagine.

And, as these elections about Same Sex Marriage roll around to your state, it is important to remember that Civil Rights are not subject to elections. They are non-negotiable. 

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