Barack Obama Demonstrates His Committment to Gay Rights
by David Link
Posted on June 12, 2009
There are three things worth saying about President Barak Obama’s Motion to Dismiss in the case of Smelt and Hammer v. United States:
(1) It is gratuitously insulting to lesbians and gay men, referring (unnecessarily) to same-sex marriage as a “form” of marriage, approving of congressional comparisons between same-sex marriages and loving relationships between siblings, or grandparents and grandchildren, and arguing (with a straight face, I can only assume) that discrimination against same-sex couples is rational because it saves the federal government money. There are some respectable arguments in this motion, and this kind of disrespect is offensive.
(2) It argues that the couple don’t have standing to sue because they have not “applied for” federal benefits. While there are some federal benefits that people do, in fact, need to apply for, no heterosexual couple applies for the vast majority of federal benefits like joint income tax returns – they just rest in the knowledge that they will be there when and if they need them.
(3) Most notably, we should all beware: Premature cases ruling against us can do harm long after the original has faded from memory. The motion cites specifically to a case from 35 years ago, Baker v. Nelson, in which the Minnesota Supreme Court waved off in fourteen short paragraphs any claim that same-sex couples might have a right to marry one another, and which the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed for want of a substantial federal question. This well-intentioned case from back when the 70s were in their infancy is still being used against us (it even made an appearance in California’s first same-sex marriage case, Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco). What may not have seemed like much of a question then has certainly gained some substance over time, but the damage from that case lingers and stings to this day.
UPDATE: This only makes the DOJ approving of this brief look worse. Good lord.
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