The issue began to create public commotion this past November when President Bush proposed a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriages in the United States. The Federal Marriage Amendment states that “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.Neither this Constitution, nor the Constitution of any State, nor State or Federal law, shall be construed to require the marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.” In other words, if passed, this amendment would also nullify all state and local domestic partnerships laws as well as invalidate civil rights protections based on marital status.
Currently, no states allow same-sex marriages; however, many states have attempted to find ways around it, causing there to be a few exceptions. On Nov. 18, 2003, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled that the state could not refuse to marry any of the seven gay and lesbian couples that had petitioned the court and, in turn, handed the matter over to state lawmakers who will have a final ruling regarding the issue in May. In 2000, Vermont established civil unions that allow same-sex couples to share a portion of the benefits that marriage provides. While those joined in a civil union are granted approximately all of the 400 state benefits, the Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMA) prevents the union from receiving over 1,000 federal rights and privileges that are automatically assigned to their heterosexual counterparts. One of the major privileges prohibited by the law is the recognition of civil unions by federal government, which is often times an argument that activists that banning gay marriage is a violation of civil rights.
DOMA was signed into law by President Clinton in 1998 and ended a long-standing rule that gave states the power to define terms of same-sex marriages for the purposes of federal law.
Posted to the web by Angelina Wagner