It took a federal judge to put two and two together. The Defense of Marriage Act was an assault on the core right of the states to define civil marriage as each sees fit; it was ... drum-roll please ... an assault on the Tenth Amendment! Money quote from the AP story:
U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro on Thursday ruled in favor of gay couples' rights in two separate challenges to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA.
The state had argued the law denied benefits such as Medicaid to gay married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004.
Tauro agreed, and said the act forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens.
"The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid," Tauro wrote in a ruling in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Martha Coakley.
And so one of the principles held most dearly by some of the tea-partiers must logically hold DOMA unconstitutional. Much more on this tomorrow. But let me note right now the political ironies of this. The right is hoist on their own federalist petard and will now have to choose whether states' rights or marriage inequality is more important to them. The Obama administration, meanwhile, now has to decide whether it will further defend DOMA in the courts, fighting against the principles of the tenth amendment so dear to conservatives or the fifth amendment so dear to liberals. The incoherence of the Republicans and the cowardice of the Democrats are now exposed more than ever.
Or they could both listen to Ted Olson. This issue is neither right nor left; it is about human dignity, civil equality and civil rights. And it is way past time the American polity grappled with this, instead of exploiting it for mutual partisan purposes.
(Photo: David McNew/Getty.)