Humanists in America and internationally have welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States that the country's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.

In the 5-4 ruling, the Majority Opinion states: "DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition. This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage."

The American Humanist Association's Facebook page quoted Executive Director Roy Speckhardt, saying, "Today the Court wisely stopped the federal government from its practice of discriminating against loving couples on account of politicians' religious bias. The Religious Right may have fought hard, but the Constitution won."

The LGBTQ Humanists tweeted this celebratory image:

The Center for Inquiry tweeted, "We're very glad to see DOMA ruled unconstitutional. A historic advance in civil equality."

Faitheist author and Harvard Humanist chaplain Chris Stedman joked on Twitter, "As excited as I am, I also know that this will lead to even more questions from some members of my family about when I'm getting married."

Sonja Eggerickx, president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) said: "This is tremendously important not just for LGBT rights in America but for the status of same-sex marriage around the world.

"Many countries are considering the formalisation of same-sex relationships in terms that clearly constitute 'second-tier' marriages, often using terms such as 'unions' or 'partnerships'. While these terms are certainly not offensive in themselves, in all cases these once-removed notions of marriage, when restricted to same-sex couples, may be taken as divisive, in that they seem afraid to taint the concept of marriage by the inclusion of same-sex couples.

"Some second-tier conceptions of same-sex marriage involve explicit discrimination. All such second-tier constructs leave plenty of room for consequent discrimination, for example if some other law refuses to recognise a 'partnership' as equal to a 'marriage', or if an insurance company, or a foreign immigration office for example, refuses to apply words such as 'spouse' to members of a same-sex 'union'.

"This is why it is internationally important that the US has reversed its stance and redrawn the line. The vote may have been close, but the Court has sent a clear message that the love between same-sex couples does not belong in a different legal class, and that lower-tier conceptions of marriage for same-sex couples will not stand the scrutiny of justice."

 

Elsewhere, the Malta Humanist Association (MHA) recently welcomed a new "broad political consensus to revise an existing 1993 agreement that ceded jurisdiction over Malta's marriage laws to the Vatican". Members of the MHA marched in solidarity with Pride last weekend in the constitutionally Catholic country.

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