What getting rid of DOMA means to me as a gay Irish immigrant


Crowds in Washington celebrate the win as the Defense of Marriage Act is struck out
Crowds in Washington celebrate the win as the Defense of Marriage
Act is struck out

There’s no way to talk about the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) without getting personal

That's because DOMA is - or rather was - invasively personal. It barged into the private lives of gay people and legally tore them from the arms of their partners. Often quite literally.

DOMA says, or rather it said, that gay marriages threaten heterosexual marriages by their mere existence. If gays can marry, heterosexuals will combust.

I'm paraphrasing of course but at its root DOMA was always insupportable nonsense. It was conceived in a maelstrom of 1990s-era homophobia and its prolonged existence shames all who have been associated with it, then and now.

As one one of the most egregiously bigoted laws ever enacted in the United States, it was only a matter of time before it was finally struck.

But my God, it dragged its heels. DOMA is just slightly older than my longtime relationship with my partner and we’ve been together a long time.

DOMA got in our way so often, in so many permutations, and it broke our hearts so much, that as late as 10am on Wednesday I secretly doubted it would ever be repealed.

And when it was, I felt a door open in my imagination that has been long shut. It was the door to our future. No longer barred. For a few hours I hardly knew what to do with myself.

Because for over a decade DOMA repeatedly stole our future, year after year, by standing in our way: it barred our tax breaks, it marred our immigration plans, it curtailed our dreams, it cost us tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and it did no good at all. None at all. There can't be any doubt about that now.

In case you missed that point, Justice Antonin Scalia's petulant lamentations on Wednesday were a timely reminder of the no good that DOMA ever did.

In his dissent Scalia acknowledged that it was getting increasingly difficult to harbor animus toward gay people or to justify the pointless discrimination against them and hope to be welcome in human society.

Well, no kidding. But you could see how it enraged him. And you couldn't mistake how his towering contempt for gays overwhelmed his prudence and jurisprudence.

For whatever reason, 'homosexual sodomy' as he called it, clearly enrages him. It is entirely too disturbing to consider why this may be so.

'We have no power to decide this case,' Scalia said, apparently forgetting that 24 hours earlier he had thrown that caution to the wind to invalidate the Voting Rights Act.

‘And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation. The Court’s errors on both points spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America.'

This is a little inconsistent of him. If it looks like sophistry in support of his desired outcome that’s because it is.

Scalia's language was freighted with hostility and withering contempt. So was Cardinal Timothy Dolan's on Wednesday, in case you missed it.

For months Dolan hasn't had a word to say about the spate of vicious anti-gay hate crimes (including a point blank murder) in his backyard last month, but boy he broke his shins in the race to condemn the DOMA ruling.

'Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation,' Dolan began.

Then he made the specious 'your donut is making me fat' argument. You know, the one that lost the argument against DOMA in the pews and on the streets of the nation.

If you want to defend heterosexual marriage, Cardinal Dolan, might I suggest that you address your efforts to the heterosexuals who are in marriages? Just a thought.

Because heterosexual marriage has been defenseless since 10am on Wednesday. And something tells me heterosexual marriage is doing just fine.

Now I'm going to see about my own marriage. I wish you all the luck and I hope you'll do likewise.


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