New York has become the second state to realize the gross unconstitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA. The mere fact that a law like DOMA could get through the Legislature and become the law of the land is scary. Basically, what DOMA says is that the United States of America, the land of the free and place that people come for the promise of equality, does not recognize the rights of same sex individuals to enjoy the rights and privileges associated with marriage. Further, DOMA says that if an individual state elects to recognize gay marriage, other states are under no obligation to recognize the existence of that marriage if the married couple relocates to a state that does not recognize their marriage.
There are so many things about DOMA which are just terribly wrong, both from a moral standpoint and from a legal standpoint. First of all, the law clearly violates the Equal Process Clause of the Constitution. People have a right to be afforded equal rights regardless of their race, religion, color or sexual orientation. DOMA restricts those rights and disallows same sex couples from the most basic rights of marriage like hospital visitation, spousal tax deductions, and estate tax savings. This is all because a sect of our country (and our government) cannot come to grips with the fact that people are gay and want to have a fair opportunity to live freely.
DOMA is also unconstitutional because it allows states like my home State of Florida to refuse to recognize the rights of same sex couples that have been legally married in other states, like Massachusetts and New York. Under the Comity Clause of the U.S. Constitution, states like Florida should be required to recignize same sex marriages that take place in states like Massachusetts, but DOMA allows Florida to continue to refuse to provide legally married, same sex couples with the rights and privileges they deserve.
With this ruling from the New York courts, same sex couples are one step close to achieving the equality that they deserve. At The Leto Law Firm, we have handled appeals in Florida courts in an attempt to force recognition of same sex marriage but in this State, where the Legislature is controlled by those that refuse to acknowledge the rights to equality and civil liberties, Florida courts have been constrained in their ability to change the law. However, it appears that those days are close to being over