Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Judge White Rules DOMA Unconstitutional

I can make no assumptions about the sexual orientation of this man, but his judicial ruling certainly has influence on our lives as gay and bisexual men, so I'm making him the second ever "honorary" subject of this blog. This federal judge (right) has found unconstitutional a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law which forbids providing federal government benefits to same-sex spouses.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White (Northern California), appointed to the bench in 2002 by President George W. Bush (!), issued a ruling yesterday afternoon finding the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in a case involving law clerk Karen Golinski's request for benefits for her female spouse. Judge White said the stated goals of DOMA, passed in 1996 and signed by President Bill Clinton, could not pass muster under a so-called "heightened scrutiny" test or even a lower "rational basis" threshold.

“The imposition of subjective moral beliefs of a majority upon a minority cannot provide a justification for this legislation. The obligation of the Court is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code,” White wrote. "Tradition alone, however, cannot form an adequate justification for a law. ... The ‘ancient lineage’ of a classification does not render it legitimate .... Instead, the government must have an interest separate and apart from the fact of tradition itself."

Ms. Golinski is a married lesbian who wishes to put her wife on the health plan she gets through her employer, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But, by declaring that federal law only recognizes opposite sex marriages, DOMA Section 3 prevents her from doing this, something that every heterosexual married federal employee is allowed to do. You may also recall that President Obama refused to defend DOMA in this case, ceding that role to Republicans in the House.

Another solid victory for equality! So pause for a moment to get up and dance around your desk. Marriage equality has gained a national legislative momentum that I hope is irreversible. My neighboring state of Maryland is within days of becoming the eighth state to allow same sex marriage, so stay tuned.

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