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Opinion: Obama administration is right about its stance on DOMA

Kent Vashaw

Kent VashawPresident Barack Obama urged the Supreme Court on Friday to declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, according to the Huffington Post.

His argument that DOMA is discriminatory in regards to equal protection under the law, and therefore violates the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, is completely accurate.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appellate case U.S. v. Windsor, which will potentially either validate or strike down DOMA, a critical step in anti-gay marriage legislation. The specific part of DOMA being called into question denies marital benefits to same-sex couples, even if those couples are married legally in their state of residence.

In this particular case, Edith Windsor, who was legally married to her wife in Toronto, was forced to pay over $300,000 in taxes after her wife’s death. Even though New York legally recognized their marriage, the federal government didn’t because of DOMA.

The Obama administration is absolutely right when they state that DOMA violates the spirit of equal protection.

Obama’s statement notes that a broad scientific consensus supports the fact that homosexuality is a key component of identity that is not chosen. Homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice, but rather a biological fact. And homosexuality has, up until now, been so badly stigmatized that homosexuals have had virtually no political power.

This is clearly present in the laws of many states, from California’s Proposition 8, which bans any homosexual marriage, to North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which defines in the state constitution that the only legal union is marriage between a man and a woman.

Homosexuals, Obama’s brief points out, are currently one of the most discriminated against minorities in America. Extending same-sex marriage benefits hurts nobody and withholding them is an act of spite.

The U.S. government has a duty to act on behalf of its people, not for the good of the majority, but to protect the minority. Equality is one of the founding principles of this nation, and it should not be an issue that is divided down partisan lines.

Vashaw, a sophomore mathematics and creative writing major from Apex, is an opinion writer.

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