Is the decision of gay marriage left to the states or to Congress?

We do have DOMA in effect (as of 1996, thank you Clinton...), but we also have Massachusetts legalizing gay marriage. Although these laws are supposed to left to the states (according to the Constitution), Marriage does have it's benefits from federal government: So, is Gay Marriage a state or federal issue?

9 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    Currently, the decision of gay marriage is left to the both the states and Congress. Many states have passed bans against same sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act signed by Bill Clinton in 1996 says that states do not have to recognize laws of other states in regards to same sex marriage (while having to recognize other state laws such as driver licensing).

    In 1958 Richard Loving, a white male, married Mildred Jeter, a woman of African-American and American Indian descent, in the District of Columbia. When they moved to the state of Virginia, which had laws that banned marriages between any white person and a non-white person, they were told that their marriage was illegal and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia. The Lovings filed a lawsuit that eventually made it's way to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), which ruled in 1967 that laws preventing marriage between those of a different race were unconstitutional and, in its decision, wrote "Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."

    Some rights are so inherent that they should be allowed to cross state lines. This is neither a state issue or a congressional issue... it is a Constitutional Issue and the 14th amendment states that the government should not "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws," which is now usually referred to as the equal protection clause. Although many people do not realize this, the greatest amount of power granted to the President of the US is to name a nominee to SCOTUS, whose decisions can last for decades instead of years.

    Issues of equality have been historically been decided by the the courts from the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision to the Loving v. Virginia decision to the Romer v. Evans decision.

    States can pass laws, and congress can pass laws, but that does not mean that they are Constitutional. Every now and then they need to be reminded that everyone should enjoy the "equal protection of the laws" that should not favor one group over another and that all men are, indeed, created equal.

  • 1 decade ago

    DOMA says that states (and the federal government) cannot be compelled to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in other states, but it does not in and of itself ban same-sex marriage.

    "Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof."

    --U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section I

    "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

    --Tenth Amendment

    Same-sex marriage has been made both a federal and state issue (see above). If gay marriage is ever incorporated into federal civil rights laws, then it will become, for the most part, a purely federal issue.

  • ?
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Here is a site with a map showing the status of gay marriage state by state.

    (I live in AZ. The state has a Defense of Marriage Act.

    When they tried to also have a State Constitutional Ammendment the voters voted against it, so we just have to get rid of the DOMA.)

  • 4 years ago

    The constitution doesn't authorize the government to have anything to do with marriage, and thus the federal government should have nothing to do with it. The 10th amendment says any powers not given to the federal government are given to the states, local governments, and people. Honestly I just think the government should stay out of marriage completely, whether it be state or federal.

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  • 1 decade ago

    it is ALWAYS a federal issue. because unless a states laws are more strict than a federal law, the state cant over ride the constitution of the united states.

  • 1 decade ago

    It is left to the states. The feds may pass a law that says, "A married man and woman may have this benefit", but I think that those laws will be found unconstitutional within 10-20 years.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Such issues where the states have the laws should take precedence over federal law

  • 1 decade ago

    Many people with disabilities were institutionalized and denied the right to have relationships both romantic and platonic. These practices are pretty much abolished in the U.S. Perhaps some day, society will have less religious overtones and such persecution/discrimination would be unheard or least looked down upon.

  • It should be out of federal hands, and be a state issue.

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