Credit where due: Nixon-appointee and U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro is the man who struck the mortal blow against the law
Sure, public opinion polls show support for gay marriage strong and growing stronger. Yes, the White House has again come out in favor of the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. It's true, the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday holds a hearing titled "Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American families." Indeed, the end seems near for the beleaguered Clinton-era statute.
But let's make sure we give credit for its looming downfall where credit is due. One man started this ball rolling down the hill. His name is Joe Tauro. As in United States District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro, one of the most revered federal trial judge in the long, rich history of Massachusetts' jurists. Last July, a mere 53 weeks ago, he struck down the DOMA with a vivid opinion that simply vitiated the rationale for the law.
We wouldn't be where we are today on the Defense of Marriage Act -- the White House backing away from it in court, opponents receding into the background, the Congress on the prowl -- if Judge Tauro had not issued that ruling last July. Or if he had authored a ruling that was less unequivocal than the one he issued. For he didn't just strike down the DOMA. He eviscerated it. And in so doing gave legal and political cover for all that has come since.