Court finds DOMA unconstitutional

A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that parts of the Defense of Marriage Act are unconstitutional.

US District Court Judge Jeffrey White - appointed by President Bush - is the second judge to strike down parts of the act.


U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White, who sits in San Francisco and was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, issued the ruling Wednesday afternoon in a case involving federal judicial law clerk Karen Golinski's request for benefits for her female spouse. 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" threshhold.

"The imposition of subjective moral beliefs of a majority upon a minority cannot provide a justification for the 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."

White's 43-page decision (posted here) is similar to a ruling from a federal judge in Massachusetts in 2010, who also struck down an aspect of DOMA.

This is just the preliminary bout. The main event will occur when the Supreme Court takes up the case, perhaps next year.

I find it most interesting that "Tradition alone, however, cannot form an adequate justification for a law." If that's true, why bother with the Constitution at all? One of the major principles in the Constitution is that what was relevant in 1787 should be relevant today, or at least acknowledged as germane. Of course, in the case of marriage, that "traditional definition" predates the birth of Christ.

I guess some traditions are more relevant than others.