Chicago, IL — Tuesday, voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington approved same-sex marriage; in Colorado and Washington they legalized recreational marijuana. The problem? In both instances it violates federal law and rules.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996 by Congress and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton, came about after fear that Hawaii would legalize same-sex marriage, long before the nation would embrace such an adjustment. DOMA defines marriage as between and man and a woman. Attitudes about same-sex marriage have changed dramatically in the last sixteen years and current polling suggests the more than 50% of Americans approve of the unions. Recent Federal Court rulings have declared DOMA to be unconstitutional, but there are further appeals available which will ultimately put the controversy in the Supreme Court before a final resolution is determined. It could be a long path before it is all ironed out.
Although DOMA seems to be on the way out the door via the courts, currently married same-sex couples, while endorsed by the state they live in, will be denied marriage benefits from social security, estate taxes and federal pensions.