From the Los Angeles Times
No Defending the Defense of Marriage Act
The author of the federal Defense of Marriage Act now thinks it's time for his law to get the boot -- but for political reasons, not in support of gays.
By Bob Barr
January 5, 2009
In 1996, as a freshman member of the House of Representatives, I wrote the Defense of Marriage Act, better known by its shorthand acronym, DOMA, than its legal title. The law has been a flash-point for those arguing for or against same-sex marriage ever since President Clinton signed it into law. Even President-elect Barack Obama has grappled with its language, meaning and impact.
I can sympathize with the incoming commander in chief. And, after long and careful consideration, I have come to agree with him that the law should be repealed.
The left now decries DOMA as the barrier to federal recognition and benefits for married gay couples. At the other end of the political spectrum, however, DOMA has been lambasted for subverting the political momentum for a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In truth, the language of the legislation -- like that of most federal laws -- was a compromise.
DOMA was indeed designed to thwart the then-nascent move in a few state courts and legislatures to afford partial or full recognition to same-sex couples. The Hawaii court case Baehr vs. Lewin, still active while DOMA was being considered by Congress in mid-1996, provided the immediate impetus.