At America’s founding, the Constitution’s framers described Congress’s purpose so there would be no mistake or confusion about the responsibilities and duty of each state’s elected representatives. The Founding Fathers were intelligent enough to anticipate a scenario where members of Congress may be inclined to overstep their Constitutional limitations so they listed Congress’s specific duties in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. However, Republicans either did not read the Powers of Congress or decided they were exempt from following the Constitution because in 1996, they passed the Defense of Marriage Act that has as its basis religious dogmata; therefore, it is patently unconstitutional. Article 1, Section 8 does not include any variant of legislating religious doctrine or a group’s morality and yet Republicans are spending taxpayer dollars to defend DOMA instead of upholding their Constitutional duties.
In 1913, Amendment XVI was ratified that gave Congress “power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” At the start of the 112th Congress, Republicans held a ceremonial reading of the Constitution so there is no excuse for their aversion to raising or collecting taxes on all sources of income. Instead of collecting taxes, Republicans cut corporate and wealthy’s taxes and have taken up the mantle of defending traditional marriage at the behest of the Religious Right. The sad truth is, they are not defending traditional marriage; they are waging war against gays and denying equal rights based on religious grounds.
The organization most responsible for assailing gays and their right to marry the person they love is the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), and they are using lies and scare-tactics to garner support from ignorant voters to pressure conservative-Christians in Congress and state legislatures into passing laws and ballot initiatives to “protect traditional marriage” as if gays are on a mission to destroy it. Some of the lies NOM spreads are that if gays are allowed to marry, children will be indoctrinated in the gay lifestyle or that church leaders will be imprisoned for refusing to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.
During California’s Proposition 8 campaign in 2008, NOM, Mormons in Utah, and the Catholic Church spent millions-of-dollars to portray same-sex marriage as an all-out assault on traditional marriage. There were television commercials, automated phone calls, and Republican candidates saturating the airwaves and neighborhoods warning that if the measure did not pass, marriage’s would be destroyed and gays would “turn 2nd-graders gay.” Packs of church members roamed the precincts going door-to-door (with bibles in hand) with horror stories about the imminent danger of allowing gay couples to marry.
President Obama made the correct decision when he instructed Attorney General Eric Holder to stop defending the unconstitutional DOMA. Holder said that President Obama “concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny.” Holder also said that, “The Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional “and that, “Several lower courts have ruled DOMA itself to be unconstitutional.” Mr. Holder sent a letter to John Boehner that specifically referred to the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause that said, “The record 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 Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.” Of course DOMA is unconstitutional and at a time when Americans need Congress to help create jobs and work to strengthen the economy, Republicans are digging in and wasting time and money to deny gays equal rights and protections. John Boehner agrees.
Boehner said that, “Mr. Obama will have to explain to the American people why, despite a desire for lawmakers to focus on the still-struggling economy, he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation.” There is truth to Boehner’s statement that Americans want lawmakers to focus on the economy, but Republicans are not doing that. Instead, they have attempted to impose the Religious Right’s morals on the country as a distraction for their inability to help the economy.
Boehner will never admit that denying gays equal rights will not create jobs, reduce the deficit, or strengthen the economy because there is big money in selling fear and anger to bigots. There is a war being waged, but it is not against traditional marriage; it is against President Obama in the next election. In conservative states like North Carolina, Virginian, and Iowa NOM has spent huge sums of money to instill fear and outrage against same-sex marriage that is meant to bring out Republican voters to defeat same-sex marriage and President Obama. Hopefully, voters will realize that like reducing the deficit, denying gays the right to marry will not produce jobs or help the economy. There is no doubt that NOM and the religious backers are passionate about ending same-sex marriage, but it is a dastardly distraction. However, distractions aside, when people are hungry and desperate, their fear of same-sex marriage may take a backseat to their fear of falling into poverty and living on the street.
Conservatives have no answers for the economic situation so as usual, the need a scary issue to bring their supporters to the polls. In states and at the federal level, legislators are avoiding their constitutional mandates by passing laws they have no right considering at all. Religious people are passionate about their moral beliefs, but when their beliefs deny gay’s equal rights guaranteed in the Constitution, it is going too far. Republicans and some Democrats support DOMA that should never have been passed in the first place. President Clinton signed DOMA but in July 2009, he came out in favor of same-sex marriage. He said, “Sixteen years have now gone by, and I think a lot has changed with respect to attitudes within our country. And therefore, I think this is a law that should be reviewed.” Americans have also changed with the times and a poll said that 53% of Americans say government should legally recognize gay marriage.
Conservatives must stop distracting frightened Americans with their attacks on same-sex marriage and get to the work of helping all Americans. Organizations like NOM will always try to impose their will on this country, but their influence would end immediately if Republicans would pay attention to their duties as outlined in the Constitution. One of those duties is “laying and collecting tax from all sources of income” and if they would do their jobs, millions of Americans who are unemployed would have good-paying jobs. However, the chance of Republicans ever doing their Constitutional duty is so slim that voters are forgetting to be distracted by bigots and will elect representatives who will follow the Constitution by laying and collecting taxes and repealing DOMA.