DOMA Reversal Could Have Election Implications

July 16, 2010 10:42

“President Obama has two choices: lose the gays, or lose the House,” Michael Rogers, a Washington-based activist, said, “At least that’s how many leaders in the gay community see it.”

The Americano

The aftermath of the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act by a judge in Boston, Mass., could influence the outcome of November’s midterm elections.

Last Thursday, Judge Joseph Tauro ruled in two separate cases that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the 10th Amendment, which enumerates states’ rights, and the Equal Protection Clause.

Reaction to the ruling was mixed.

Gay rights groups heralded the ruling as a step forward in the fight to put homosexual and heterosexual couples on the same legal ground.

Nancy Gill, the main plaintiff in one of the cases, said, “I’m so happy I can’t even put it into words.”

Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, said the ruling was an act of “judicial activism” and called Tauro a “rogue judge.”

“We can’t allow the lowest common denominator states, like Massachusetts, to set standards for the country,” Lafferty said.

Tom McClusky, senior vice president of the conservative Family Research Council, said President Barack Obama’s administration presented a “deliberately weak legal defense of DOMA.”

A key factor in the scope of the case’s effects will be determined by if or how the Obama administration will appeal the ruling. Representatives of the administration have publicly said Obama would like to see DOMA repealed.

Kent Greenfield, a professor at Boston College and a constitutional law expert, said, “One thing that’s going to be really interesting to watch is whether the Obama administration appeals or not.”

Greenfield said the impact of the case could spread greatly if a court with broader jurisdiction hears the appeal and affirms Tauro’s ruling. The First Circuit, which includes Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire in addition to Massachusetts, would hear an appeal of the case.

The decision of whether or not to appeal is a double-edged sword for the Obama administration. If they appeal the ruling, they risk losing the support and funding of the homosexual community, the majority of which votes Democratic. If they support the ruling, many believe that would give Republicans a political weapon to use against Democrats in November’s midterm elections.


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