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House GOP Lawyer Uses “Polygamy” In Opening Salvo In Edie Windsor DOMA Case

Does THIS look like gay marriage to you? – Looks like HELL to me!

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Mew York  began hearing Edith Windsor’s DOMA case in New York.  Windsor is suing to recoup a $350,000 federal estate tax bill she was forced to pay because DOMA prevented her marriage to a woman from being recognized by the federal government.  Paul Clement is defending the federal definition of “marriage” and “spouse” contained in DOMA for John Boehner and  House Republican leaders because President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder concluded that DOMA is unconstitutional stopped defending court challenges.

In yesterday’s court opening Clements wasted no time opening with an example of an 1885 court case  when asked where the “traditional understanding” of marriage could be found in federal case law —  a case that dealt with polygamy in the Utah territory.

That case, decided about polygamy in Utah before women were guaranteed the right to vote, came only 20 years after the end of the Civil War and more than 80 years before the court would strike down bans on interracial marriage. Today, it was one of the underlying arguments in House Republican leaders’ case that the Supreme Court recognizes a “traditional understanding” of marriage that the Defense of Marriage Act is seeking to uphold. The Republicans’ lawyer, Paul Clement, never used the word “polygamy.” But the 1885 case and other government efforts aimed at stopping polygamy came up throughout today’s hearing about DOMA’s constitutionality. {snip}

Clement also argued that in addition to DOMA’s definition of marriage being an ordinary attempt to preserve federal resources — “line-drawing,” House Republican leaders argue — Congress has a rational basis for choosing uniformity in national policy in this changing area over deference to states’ decisions on the issue.

Interesting and extremely ironic that Clement and the Republicans had to go back to Polygamy times in Utah to find defense for same-sex marriage especially considering that Mitt Romney’s father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico, after Romney’s grandfather and other Mormons settled in Mexico following an 1890 ban on polygamy.


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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