The Defense Of Marriage Act then and now


When our forefathers wrote the Constitution, they could never have known the changes that our country and our world would encounter time and time again. Each time a change is initiated, the leaders of modern times have to go back to that document and somehow apply it to the current lifestyles, beliefs and ever changing definitions of family, religion and law. Every generation can tell stories of protests and headlines, reminding them of the controversies of their time. The specifics change, but conflict is ever present.

Until death or divorce

“Man and wife” has certainly changed since the ink dried and in 1996, the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed in Congress in order to start drawing some lines for a hot topic where few states or individuals could agree. DOMA stated that no state had to recognize a same-sex married granted by another state in any way, whether it meant defining roles and titles or doling out health benefits and other spousal monies. This was a ruling to lay boundaries between the states, while somehow managing to still keep the government from making any kind of broad, federal law. (

The District made fourteen

By 2013, Congress would meet again, repealing the DOMA, declaring that anyone married in one of the thirteen states or Washington D.C. that recognized and performed same-sex unions would be considered married in every state and given the same rights and benefits as any married couple. ( While it still avoided making a federal law that same-sex marriages could happen anywhere in the country, this act did extend federal benefits and protection to those legally married couples.

The Fifth Amendment

In their lengthy explanations detailing their decision, the dominant definition focused on all individuals being entitled to equal liberty, as promised by the Fifth Amendment. ( In layman’s terms, every person deserves to be free to marry any other person with that same freedom. Despite the fact that it is in fact a very complicated issue, Congress was able to highlight the Constitution and make their decision as simple as the freedom to choose where we live or travel or go to church. Some supporters of same-sex marriage would take offense at a comparison that makes their plight seem so simple or common, but that’s exactly what got them what they wanted.

Time will tell

As it stands, there are still some states that don’t allow same sex marriage to be conducted in their jurisdiction, but they all have to recognize the marriages performed in the states that do. It may seem futile to keep protesting when it seems that it is all but law. Both sides would seriously disagree. The states are holding on to very serious beliefs based on religion and what they see as biblical truth. However, even if forty-nine states allowed same sex marriage, those fighting for it would still not rest. In another twenty years, this issue will be old and tired and we’ll be talking and writing about something else that our forefathers could not have predicted.


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