January 5, 2009

Author Of DOMA Desires Its Repeal

One of the things that I admire the most about people is when they realize that they were wrong and admit it. Bob Barr is doing that now. No flaming liberal, no culture warrior he. Bob Barr was a Republican Congressman from Georgia when he authored the Defense of Marriage Act. Now, he thinks it should be repealed. His basic argument is that DOMA is used to prevent extending benefits to same-sex couples even in situations where there seems to be a political desire to extend those benefits.

In the absence of DOMA, it's not clear whether the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution would compel one state (California, for instance) to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state (Massachusetts or Connecticut). I would tend to think so, but the interposition of state constitutional amendments like Proposition 8 would be a powerful block to that.

I doubt DOMA will be repealed. I'd be pleasantly surprised if it were. But how about this instead? Allow a same-sex couple who are registered as domestic partners or in a civil union according to the laws of their state to file a joint tax return with the IRS. Just that, nothing more, to start with. Watch and observe as the world does not stop revolving around its axis, as no impact on federal revenues takes place, and children are not forcibly converted to homosexuality. Then, a few years later, maybe we allow joint bankruptcy filing. And after that, who knows? By the end of the day, being in a domestic partnership could be nearly the legal equivalent of being in a marriage. And at that point, maybe it really will be just a matter of semantics.

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