New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled on Friday that gay couples must be allowed to marry as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Jacobson claimed that refusing to recognize same-sex marriages would be depriving couples of their rights.
No New Jersey, that is not how the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA works. Maybe Mary Jacobson didn’t even bother to read the ruling or something, because nothing in the ruling says anything about state’s being required to allow gay marriage as a result. In fact, the SCotUS ruling isn’t about whether states should make gay marriage legal at all.
The class to which DOMA directs its restrictions and restraints are those persons who are joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State. DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.
By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others,the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment. This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.
One of my professors this semester, while discussing family law, reminded the class quite frequently that marriage certificates come from the state. You don’t go to the federal court house to get your certificate and the only reason you get federal benefits is because the federal government chooses to acknowledge your marriage and give you special consideration because of that.
The only thing the Supreme Court decision did was require the federal government to acknowledge all legal marriages in a state. New Jersey is not required to allow same-sex marriage to be in compliance with this ruling because this ruling doesn’t have anything to do with the states, not even slightly.
Even Chris Christie realizes this, which makes me like him a tiny bit more…but only a tiny bit.