Thursday, September 13, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #73 - Part 2

Good news on same-sex marriage

Here is a matter on which there has been a fair amount of good news of late: same-sex marriage. Two bits today.

You have heard of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which was passed under the administration of, and signed by, every Democrat's golden idol, Bill Clinton. The law defined marriage as one man and one woman for all purposes related to federal law and federal benefits.

There have not been several cases where DOMA was found to be unconstitutional on the grounds that it discriminates against and denies rights to an indentifiable group without any compelling state interest in doing so. And, credit where it's due, last year the Obama administration that it would no longer defend DOMA in court.

The immediate bit of good news involves one particular case, that of a woman in New York (where same-sex marriage is recognized) who had to pay $350,000 in estate taxes when her partner died because the federal government, in this case the IRS, refused to recognize her marriage.

Well, the Attorney General of Vermont said on September 7 that the state is filing a brief in support of the woman in the suit, urging court to find DOMA unconstitutional. His name is William Sorrell and he said that by depriving same-sex couples federal benefits, it unfairly discriminates against them. What's more, New York and Connecticut have also filed briefs urging that DOMA be struck down.

The other bit of good news comes out of Washington state. The state legislature has passed a law to recognize same-sex marriage in that state, but the law is facing a challenge in a referendum to be voted on in November.

A polling outfit called SurveyUSA recently asked likely voters in Washington state about this: “A new law passed by the legislature would allow same-sex couples to marry in Washington state. Should this law be approved? Or rejected?” The response: 56% Approve, 38% Reject, just 6% Not Sure. A solid lead.

Maybe even more important than the raw numbers, however, is something about the point spread. Back in July, SurveyUSA asked exactly the same question and found that "Approve" outpolled "Reject" by seven percentage points. Now that gap has grown to 18 percentage points.

The proponents of justice are not getting overconfident; they know they are likely to face a wave of scare tactics in the weeks leading up to the election. But 18 points is a huge gap to overcome and the fact that support for same-sex marriage appears to be growing in the state of Washington is definitely good news.


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