When Congressional representatives take office, they take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and they “take the obligation freely without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” The oath was especially prescient this year in the 112th Congress because Republicans and teabags arranged for the body to read portions of the Constitution as a reminder of what legislators swore to support. It appears that many legislators missed the 14th Amendment when they read the Constitution because Republicans are opposing equal rights for all Americans; but it is nothing new.
Republicans have made it their stock and trade to deprive Americans of their rights based on religious dogmata, and their primary targets have been women and gays. Since the start of 2011, Republicans nationwide have passed hundreds of laws that discriminate against women by taking away their right to choose their own reproductive health. It is no secret that the attacks on women’s rights are borne of Christian-inspired ideology meant to force women to give birth and relinquish their equal rights guaranteed in the Constitution. The same bible-based ideology is being used to discriminate against gays and their ability to marry and move around the country.
When President Obama instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in February, he cited the law’s unconstitutionality. Attorney General Eric Holder related Obama’s sentiments that the federal law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman cannot be defended constitutionally. Holder briefly explained that DOMA “contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships – precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (Constitution’s) Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.” The Equal Protection Clause is part of the 14th Amendment and says that no-one can be denied equal protection of the law(s), and is based on Thomas Jefferson’s proclamation that “all men are created equal,” as written in the Declaration of Independence. Holder also pointed out that the Supreme Court ruled laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional and that the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was repealed at the end of 2010.
There is little question that DOMA is unconstitutional and that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. It discriminates against same-sex couples by disallowing them the right to marry or move around the country that heterosexual couples enjoy. DOMA forces the bible’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman on every citizen in the United States and therefore violates the 14th Amendment’s admonition that all citizens are afforded equal protection under the law. Since DOMA is a federal law, it supersedes any state’s law that allows same-sex marriage; especially if gay couples move from one state to another. So, if DOMA violates gay couple’s equal rights in the Constitution, and the Department of Justice is not defending the unconstitutional law, it stands to reason that the Constitutional supporters in the Republican Party would be in agreement with the president.
Enter Preacher of the House, John Boehner (R-OH) and his mandate to ram bible-inspired beliefs on every American, and to use scriptural decrees as the laws of the land. Boehner has decided that if the Justice Department will not defend that un-constitutional DOMA, then he will with approval from the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG). Preacher Boehner, in forgetting his oath to defend the Constitution, notified Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that, “The burden of defending DOMA, and the resulting costs associated with any litigation that would have otherwise been born by DOJ, has fallen to the House.” Whether or not it falls to the House to do the work of the DOJ is a procedural issue, but Boehner intends on using taxpayer money to defend DOMA and it is an insult to Americans to have to pay to defend a bible law that is patently unconstitutional.
Republicans have a defect that doesn’t allow them to discern between the bible and the Constitution and it causes inequality and harm to many Americans. Same-sex couples do not have equal protection under the law and Republicans want to make their lives as difficult and miserable as possible. Same-sex couples do not get the same tax status as heterosexual couples and are discriminated against in matters of adoption, employment, health care, and inheritance laws. In some Republican controlled states, gay Americans are facing laws intended to prohibit them from employment in education for the sole reason that they are gay. It has been suggested that in defending DOMA, Republicans will say that the anti-gay discrimination is valid and is justified because of moral disapproval and the unscientific claim that gay couples do not make good parents to their children as John Boehner has openly proposed.
There is no defensible argument to continue enforcing DOMA except that for Republicans, it is against the bible’s claim that god abhors homosexuality. However, the bible is not the Constitution and legislators’ oath of office is to support the Constitution, not the bible. In fact, using the bible as a basis for any law is unconstitutional according the Constitution’s separation of church and state clause. It is a travesty that Boehner and his Republican cronies are defending and supporting an unconstitutional law, but they are making American taxpayers pay for their unconstitutional measures.
The legal challenges and actions of Republicans aside, DOMA is unfair to a segment of the population that should enjoy the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples. America’s greatness has been its extension of freedoms and the pursuit of happiness to every citizen regardless of race, sexual orientation, or religious persuasion. Republicans though, at the behest of social conservatives and Christians, have decided that the Constitution only applies to heterosexual males. Women and gay Americans must be afforded equality if America is to remain a beacon of hope and freedom.
It is typical of Republicans to ignore the Constitution when it contradicts the bible, and as long as they perpetuate the notion that women and gays are not protected by the Constitution, America is not free. America is also not a theocracy, but if the courts enforce DOMA the country will move a bit closer to Preacher Boehner’s vision of America with the Ten Commandments as the law of the land and women and gays in prison. Gays, women, and all Americans deserve legislators who protect freedom, but unfortunately, Republicans control the House and if they want to take our tax dollars to defend a bigoted, unconstitutional law, there is nothing anyone can do; except vote.